As an ex-Museum Director, now a Museum Consultant, Art Director and Designer since 1977, I have trained myself to observe and to make deductions and associations to what someone can do in each field.
This means an analysis of the potential of being creative, being historically aware, historically curious and technically eager, competent and proficient to pursue a certain path.
While for some smiths it is satisfactory to pursue the path of making katana, or of making bowies or knives, Paolo Abrera has surprised me every time he has done something and shared with me.
I have been remotely associated with the attempts of finding and appropriate rendition of a Hussar Saber under certain parameters, when Paolo made my jaw drop in awe with this surprise, I instantly knew that someone was going to be even more impressed with it.
Truth must be served by saying that Paolo Abrera was not aware of the link above. The entire exercise of this blade was his own learning initiative.
This is what I like in a smith. Versatility, research, lack of prejudice, availability of mind. These are some of the ingredients that make great smiths or artists as well as the capacity to speak to others beyond his circle, because Paolo is wise enough to know that circles are but illusions. I doubt that Vince Evans belongs or requires any circle, which can become a ghetto, to grow as he has grown. Both are extremely humble and open, and that I find is the natural characteristic of great minds, something that precede the making of whatever may come next.
Such are the atmospheric conditions that prevail and preside over the making of this blade, and far from going away, will consistently solidify with each project.
Again, it is interesting to read or re-read the interview I did with him some years back.

 
 

The series of photographs that are about to be unfolded as we scroll down, don't simply reveal the making of a sword, but, moreover, the extraordinary potentialities displayed by Paolo Abrera in the field of researching this historical accurate blade, and its interpretation in what I would like to call a transcultural adventure.
Thin is the line between Art and Craft for it has been obvious through the centuries that one drinks from the other's cup in a generous exchange of knowledge.
If we add to this already complex mixture an ingredient called versatility, such as can be seen in this kris tanto or in this contemporary pira inspired in his native Philippines, one may have a glimpse of the extraordinary potential that lies within Paolo Abrera and his humble ways, which I will leave as he wants them to appear, but cannot stop myself from revealing that Paolo is a very famous personality in his country and SE Asia who wisely chose the way of modesty, and for that he gained my added respect.
Therefore, the observation of the growth of this so specific Hussar Saber is but the observation of the intelligence, competence, versatility and honesty of Paolo and the joy he takes in doing what he does in the field of sword smithing.
My previous experiences of working with Paolo always turned out into wonderful projects, some of them resulting in collaboration work not really understood by those who cannot see further then mere replication and cannot understand the boldness of creativity or require written explanations of scientific kind for what is pure eruption of ideas intertwining, in as much as Jazz is a mixture that just doesn't need to justify its existence.
This superb work on a Hussar Saber is by itself another statement of qualified versatility.
Let not the words disrupt the flow of superb images.

Antonio Cejunior

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

QUOTATION BY MATTHEW OF A TECHNICAL ANSWER PROVIDED BY PAOLO:
His answer came in an August 24, 2008 email :

Hi Matthew,

Allow me to take a few steps backwards.This blade is forged rather than stock-removed or machined, it starts out as a flat bar of steel (in this case a medium carbon steel i can source locally, 9260) and is forged as close to final shape as possible to minimize the stock removal. I don't have any hang-ups on the stock-removal vs, forged debate. Both can produce good results...as well as bad. I enjoy forging, so I choose to work this way. The main advantage I see with
forging is unlike a stock remover, I don't have to use a huge piece of steel to get the curvature I wanted. I start with a straight bar, forge the profile and distal tapers I want, taking into consideration the fact that when I forge the larger fuller, the blade it will get wider. After it's profiled and fullered, I thin the edges, this is where the blade begins to curve. After I normalize and anneal forged blade, the steel is soft enough to work with a hand scraper which I have used to place the smaller, secondary fuller. I refine the lines with files and a grinder and its ready to be hardened and tempered.

The blade is already heat treated at this point. It is through-hardened then the spine is drawn to a softer temper than the edge. I do all my own heat treatment in my simple shop. Charcoal fired open forge I use is a little old-school compared to the digital furnaces and salt-pots that commercial heat-treaters are probably using but I am happy with the results I get. The main challenge that held me back previously was that my set-up couldn't accommodate dealing with the length and curvature of this type of blade. But a new quench tank and tempering set-up now allows me to handle swords of this size and shape. So at this point I'm starting to polish the heat-treated blade and will forge out the L-hilt the next free day I have.

 

I'd like to thank Antonio and Paolo for including me in the making of The Black Saber. Antonio has been kind and patient enough with my stumbling around trying to find a sword smith or company that could produce a Polish Hussar Saber with an L-hilt and thumb ring. How could his eyes not have widened with amazement when Paolo Abrera showed him a sword blade he had made based on his own intrigue with a certain curved saber ? How could he not have turned two enthusiasts toward one another and, over a half-dozen
emails in August '08 ( and many more from then til now ), enable them to discover they were interested in the same sword ?

Five months later, on a cold morning in January '09, I unboxed, unwrapped, and drew THE sword I had held in mind " only " for four years. The Black Saber is an elegant brute, and -- I may or may not go too far here -- I feel Paolo has captured the historical spirit and physical prowness of a very unique weapon. His attention to
details and the execution of his craftsmanship -- from blade to L-Hilt to scabbard -- makes this sword solid and imposing. Thankyou, Paolo, for a job extremely well done.
And thank you again, Antonio, because it began with you.

Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz