Jay Hendrickson and the husband-and-wife team of Billy and Beverly Mace Imel are the 2021 inductees into the BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall Of Fame®.
Nominated by, and then elected in a vote of, sitting members of the Cutlery Hall Of Fame, the three comprise the 63rd, 64th and 65th members of the world’s only shrine recognizing all segments of the knife industry.
The Imels are the first-ever husband-and-wife team—or any pair, for that matter—to join the Hall simultaneously. A.G. and Goldie Russell are Hall-Of-Fame members but were inducted in separate years.
Along with the 2020 inductees, Joe Keeslar and Jim Sornberger, the 2021 inductees will be formally enshrined the Saturday of the BLADE Show, June 5, in Atlanta. Joe and Jim could not be formally enshrined last year because the BLADE Show was canceled due to the pandemic.
Jay is an American Bladesmith Society (ABS) master smith who succeeded Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame member Bill Moran as ABS president in 1991—as a nominator noted, “a trying task to be sure, and Jay succeeded Bill very well.” The nominator went on to write Jay is a good bladesmithing teacher who has taught at many venues in the USA and France, and also served as director of the Moran Foundation for 10 years, helping to preserve Bill’s legacy.
Early on, Jay and Bill conducted a forging demonstration that was one of the longest running of all BLADE Show demos. The first installment was in 1987 on the sidewalk outside the show’s former Holiday Inn & Convention Center site in Knoxville, Tennessee, and continued at each succeeding BLADE Show in Knoxville and then at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta until Bill passed away in 2006. Not only was it one of the BLADE Show’s longest running demos, it was also one of the most popular.
In 1995, Jay was presented with the ABS’s highest honor, the Don Hastings Award. The annual honor goes to an individual “who has performed outstanding service on behalf of the forged blade in the tradition of Don Hastings,” one of the founders of the ABS. In 2004, Jay won the William Wales Scagel Award, presented by the ABS to a bladesmith “for longtime service to promote the forged blade.” Another Cutlery Hall Of Famer, Scagel is considered the grandfather of custom knifemaking.
Jay was voted into the ABS Hall Of Fame in 2006 and a year later wrote the how-to guide, Introduction to Bladesmithing, with tips on how to forge various blade styles “exhibiting balance and aesthetic appeal,” how to understand the basic metallurgy of popular blade steels and more. Concluded the nominator, “Jay is a fine bladesmith, a fine teacher helping to preserve the art of bladesmithing, and a splendid ambassador of knives and knifemakers.”
Last but certainly not least, Jay forges magnificent fixed blades in the classic Moran style, including expertly ground bowies, camp knives, fighters, hunters and more, often in curly maple handles with intricate silver wire inlay, all accompanied by superb leather sheaths.
Beverly and Billy Mace Imel
Beverly and Billy Mace are the first pair of Cutlery Hall-Of-Famers ever to be inducted simultaneously. They also join A.G. and Goldie Russell as the only husband-and-wife team in the Hall.
Billy makes fantastic fixed blades yet is perhaps best known for his sleek daggers with stainless steel blades in clean, crisp grinds and slender handles in a variety of gorgeous materials. To augment that knifemaking talent is his many hours of service to The Knifemakers’ Guild.
“What can you say about those who have worked so many hours and years to help so many?” wrote a nominator. “Billy was the secretary of the Guild during a huge building phase of the longtime maker association. Every year many new applicants had to be processed. Those of us who sat on the Guild’s board of directors during many of those years can testify to the energy and effort Billy put forth. The heavy load of accounting, stopping his own work to help discuss an issue—and those issues were many—and still be able to arrive at the Guild Show venues two days early with his own knives and to help set up each show’s exhibition room was a remarkable achievement. I think Billy is a gold standard for the Cutlery Hall Of Fame in terms of working hard for others.”
Beverly, meanwhile, served with distinction for many years on the Guild board as the organization’s secretary-treasurer.
“You can’t mention Billy’s name without mentioning Beverly’s,” the nominator continued. “The Guild board of directors was a large wheel, with every director a spoke in that wheel, but it was Beverly who kept the wheel’s hub lubricated and in motion. She maintained the Guild’s records in perfect order, and if there was a question about something from the past, she either looked it up or could recall it from memory—often smack dab in the middle of a Guild business meeting.”
Beverly’s familiarity with and recollection of Guild bylaws was legendary. Indeed, anytime a Guild president was asked a question he didn’t know the answer to during a Guild business meeting, he would often turn from the microphone and say, “Beverly, do you know?” Invariably she did and more than a few members in attendance would smile and wink at each other as a result.
The nominator went on to state that he wanted the Cutlery Hall of Fame to step out of the mold and do something different in considering Billy and Beverly for enshrinement. “It would be honorable for us to induct both of the Imels as one,” he wrote. Enough sitting Hall Of Famers agreed and the Imels are now members of their august group.