Silver fish-fillet knife © 2007 Spencer Ritzen Silver fish-fillet knife © 2007 Spencer Ritzen

Gold Medal In: Knifemaking, 2007

  • Life Dates Born 1943, Superior, Wisconsin
  • Occupation Retired Industrial Arts teacher
  • Residence at Time of Award New Market, Minnesota


  • 2002 Red ribbon for a knife with reindeer horn handle
  • 2005 White ribbon for a silver knife with monogram
  • 2006 Blue ribbon for a dress knife
  • 2007 Red ribbon for a silver fish-fillet knife

Artist Statement

I have always been interested in my heritage, which is primarily Finnish, with some Swedish. It seems all of my friends are of primarily Norwegian descent (“I am a Finnish island in a sea of Norwegians”), so consequently, I gravitated more to Norwegian folk art. Gene Tokheim has been a good friend for many years and when he began holding Norwegian knifemaking classes, I had little choice but to join in. I found that I had some talent in this area and combining that with heritage was wonderfully fulfilling. It seemed to strengthen ties between my ancestors and me. Gene has been my single biggest influence, but I have also met many talented and interesting people while participating in this art.