Charles Niedermayer – Focus on Local Artists – Issue #7

November 2012

Charles Niedermayer

Charles Niedermayer

This month, WRAC features Charles Niedermayer, from Powerview, a multi-talented artist who creates custom knifes, carves wood, does taxidermy and makes jewelry. He also handcrafts paddles, snowshoes and various outdoor equipment. Now retired, Niedermayer worked as a power engineer at the Pine Falls mill but he always created his many artistic projects in between shifts and on weekends. And, although he recently turned eighty-four, he continues to make beautiful works of art.

His great love of the outdoors led him to knife making. In 1970, he made his first knife and when friends saw his creations, they wanted to buy them. When asked, he smiles and says he is self-taught, but took one metal heat-treating course, by correspondence. He also read books and magazines, and asked steel companies lots of questions. First he made his own grinder and then bought a professional unit. Then he collected tools such as a band saw and drill press. By the early 1980’s, he had established a knife making business.

Niedermayer Knives

Niedermayer Knives

Niedermayer knives have been exhibited at knife shows in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary, and at gun shows in Winnipeg. He has sold them to customers from all across Canada, Africa, Scotland, Germany, New Zealand, and United States. Hunters in the Arctic especially love his knives. All sales are generated by word-of-mouth. Despite no advertisements, he still can’t keep up with requests, which new owners seek as exquisite gifts or as collectors’ items. His customers do not quibble at his prices, because they can istantly see the amount of work which has gone into each creation.

Niedermayer crafts his knife handles from various materials: deer, elk and moose antlers, ivory, bison horn, metals, jawbones of bear and timber wolf, and exotic woods and shells from all over the world. He shapes and heat treats his blades in the summer, making a few copies of the popular styles. He also handcrafts the sheaths, cutting leather, hand sewing, decorating the outersurfaces with stencils and etchings, and installing plastic inserts so the knives are protected and don’t slip out. He also makes knives for chefs, for which he creates special wooden sheaths. His wife Christine has an impressive collection of kitchen knives, kept in a wooden rack on a pantry door.

During the winter, in his basement studio, he carves game birds, raptors, and waterfowl, and creates intricate sculptures of boreal forest animals, framed by carved antlers. For ten years, he exhibited these works of art in Prairie Canada Carvers competitions and won various awards for his detailed artistry.

During this interview, Niedermayer left to speak to a customer at his door. But he had to decline; he simply can’t make enough knives.