By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
This weekend’s gun and knife show at the I.O.O.F. Event Center in Corsicana will be a first for knife craftsman Bruce Bacon of Frost.
Although his pieces are collected by knife aficionados as far away as Belgium, he’s never sold his pieces at a show.
“They’re everyday, functional cowboy knives, I think,” Bacon said, although he’s clearly proud of his work.
Bacon, 61, uses antlers, twisted steel, 50 mm brass shells, and even hair-covered deer feet, to make the handles for his knives, crafting them in a workshop on his farm near Navarro Mills. “I just do whatever comes into my head,” he said.
The gun and knife show will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, at the I.O.O.F. Event Center, 601 N. 45th St. About 50 to 60 vendors will be setting up 170 tables selling guns, knives, ammunition, clothing, hunting gear, and jewelry, according to the company producing the show. This will be the fourth gun and knife show in about a year at the I.O.O.F. Center.
Bacon has been making knives for about four years, since a heart attack made him reconsider his previous careers. In the past, he’s been a construction supervisor with the Dallas Zoo, owner of a mobile petting zoo, bronc rider, and most recently, an auctioneer and businessman in Frost.
In September, he and his wife Elida intend to sell their businesses in downtown Frost.
“We want to retire and enjoy life a little bit. We just want to do the things we enjoy from here on out,” he explained.
Bruce will use his new-found leisure time to focus on his “hobbies,” of making knives and playing with the musical group, the Old Time Gospel Band, which performs around the area.
He learned how to do woodworking, metal work and the like from his Grandpa Bacon, who advised Bruce never to follow the crowd.
“My grandpa Bacon said ‘if you’re going to do something, do it different. With a name like Bacon, they’re going to remember you,” Bacon said. “It’s not a knife you see everywhere.”
One of the unique aspects of his knives is a locking system to make sure that, even under extreme pressure, the handles aren’t going to separate from the tang.
“You need to know that if you’re out cleaning a hog or a deer that you can depend on it,” Bacon said.
Bruce and Elida Bacon found their land in Navarro County about 28 years ago, and have been coming down on weekends since then. After he retired from the Dallas Zoo, they moved to the area full-time and eventually opened Bacon Auction, and then the Frost Auction House, both in Frost.
Making knives is something new, but it’s taken off as more people have become enamored with the craftsmanship of the pieces. There are collectors throughout the state, and thanks to a middleman who runs an e-Bay “store,” Bacon’s knives have been sent around the world.
“I don’t even take orders anymore,” Bacon said. “I don’t have any problem selling my knives. My problem is keeping them.”
He doesn’t even own any of his own pieces, Elida pointed out.
“This is my therapy,” Bruce said. “To be able to take a piece of bone or antler and make something with it. You have to be really patient.”
He’s also convinced that the work keeps his arthritic hands limber.
Although the pieces sell pretty dearly on the Internet, Bacon’s prices range from $35 to $150 for his larger knives. He knows he could demand higher prices, that’s not his motivation, he said.
“I’m not in for the money,” Bacon said. ‘”It helps pay its way. It’s not a business, it’s a hobby. That’s the difference.”
This weekend will determine how well his knives sell in a retail atmosphere of the knife show. He’s got about 50 pieces in stock now, and he’ll be taking them all with him to the Corsicana show. Bacon admitted he hopes he doesn’t sell out. He doesn’t want to have to start over again from scratch building up his meager inventory.
“The two things I enjoy is making knives and playing Gospel music,” Bacon said.
“I’m always doing something. I don’t want to just sit still,” he said.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com
If you go:
The gun and knife show will be from
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, at the I.O.O.F. Event Center, 601 N. 45th St. Admission is $5, children ages 12 and younger get in free.