Knifemaker shows skills at Høstfest

Norwegian Kjetil Groven started out as an engineer, but he quickly decided that wasn’t the career for him.

“I found it very tiring, not being able to work with my hands,” said Groven, who has a booth in the Touchstone Energy Heritage Center in Copenhagen Hall.

From engineering, he moved into carpentry, building log homes, which eventually led him to establish his own blacksmithing business in Rapid City, S.D.

Now Groven, who is originally from Skien, Norway and came to the United States in 1999, makes his living forging hand-crafted blades, latches and door handles. He also does woodwork, such as making wooden cabinets.

“It’s nice to have a spouse who is supportive of you,” said Groven, who said his wife and the income from her career has made it easier for him to launch his business.

There is more work for crafters like himself in the United States than there are in other parts of the world, but Groven said such businesses rely largely on word of mouth and can take some time to become successful.

Talented crafters can make a living, said Groven, who has a friend with a business carving wooden spoons.

Groven said one of the reasons he keeps coming back to Hstfest is because he hopes to interest young people in learning blacksmithing and other crafts. Groven is the youngest exhibitor in the Touchstone Energy Heritage Center. He wants to encourage more children and teenagers to consider learning the crafts so they don’t die out.

Groven got his own start on his future career in a seventh grade shop class back in Norway.

“We can’t all be lawyers or doctors,” said Groven. “Some of us have to work with our hands.”

Groven enjoyed talking with one young boy who bought a knife blade from him and eagerly questioned him about every aspect of his work. The child told Groven he is a “knife fanatic” and is interested in making his own knives like they do in Norway.

This is the kind of excitement Groven likes to see.

Groven will be exhibiting throughout the Norsk Hstfest this week at the State Fair Center.