Before I get into the meat of this blog post, let me introduce myself – I’m Mitch Lum – I started out collecting knives back in 1999 when I was a college student. In order to support my knife collecting I started photographing knives and building websites for custom knifemakers. Over time, I started to make my own work – while not knives, as a custom maker I focus on lathe turned work. I started out over 10 years ago making rings in titanium, then pretty quickly thereafter move almost exclusively to Timascus™ and stainless Damascus steel rings.
In March 2014, Jon Walker from Alpha Knife Supply suggested I try making a top. After I made a couple, I thought I would just make a few more for friends and that would be the end of it. But I discovered the Pocket Top Talk Group on Facebook. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, when custom tops were starting to take off – over 3 years and 250 tops later I’m still making them and enjoying every hour I get to spend in the shop.
Last year, I was planning a get together of a few top and knifemaker friends the evening before Blade Show. We had a some collectors express interest in joining and before I knew it the group had outgrown any restaurant we could reasonably book. So I contacted the Marriott Northwest Galleria and booked a small banquet room and that was the inception of TopCon.
Last year’s TopCon was about 40 people including makers Josh Dawson, Rich Stadler, Brian Fellhoelter, Gavin Sexton, Tom Griffin, Steve Aiena, Jon Walker and Kerry Weeks.
The event featured food, friendship, community building, buying and selling of tops (of course) and a Makers Challenge. The competition was to create the longest spinning top under 15 grams. At that time, it was half the mass (or less in many cases) of what we were mostly making at the time. The results blew us all away - all our tops were easily capable of greater than 10 minute spins with the right materials combinations, design and of course meticulous execution. Alpha Knife Supply donated a nice piece of Basketweave Timascus and Kerry Weeks built the Spin Station / trophy, which was taken home by our winner Rich Stadler of BilletSpin. Jeff Goad streamed the whole event to Pocket Top Talk.
This year we’re doing it again! Beyond a great line-up of makers I’ve brought on some additional sponsors beyond Alpha Knife Supply and Kerry Weeks who will for the second year provide prizing and the spin station/trophy for the Makers Challenge. Massdrop has signed on as the Platinum Sponsor and will be providing a generous supply of door prizes as well as something nice for all the attendees. Dean Chou of All Things Spinning will be providing his K9 glass for the spinning competition. Dexter King will be making the spin station for a new division in the spinning competition – the collector division. And just like last year, Jeff Goad will stream the event live on Pocket Top Talk.
If you will be attending Blade Show and are interested in attending TopCon the evening of June 1, registration is open: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/topcon-2017-tickets-32644973996 If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mitchlumMachined/