The International Wootz Society was formed to bring the community of wootz makers, collectors and wootz fans together in one spirit and to communicate with and educate the wider community about this wonderful, mysterious and often misunderstood historical material.
The International Wootz Society is the brainchild of the President, Tim Mitchell. In September 2021 he began to discuss with some other smiths on social media the idea of a society and how it could benefit smiths, researchers and the community at large. The concept began to gain traction with the help of knife maker Peter Burt and Jin Singh of Wootz Militaria. With the further involvement of the other board members, Sebastian Szukalski, Mert Tansu and Keith Fludder, the society was born by Christmas 2021.
What is Wootz?
Wootz is a steel which was made far back in ancient history, and although how far back is disputed, the earliest artifacts of this steel date from around the first century AD. Some scholars believe however that this legendary steel was given to Alexander the Great during his campaign in India which began in 327 BC.
Throughout history this steel has been made in India, Persia, the areas of the Ottoman Empire and other regions in Central and reportedly far Western Asia. The lumps of this steel, called ingots were traded far and wide for several thousand years and these ingots were then forged out into blades, armour, tools and utensils displaying beautifully watered or crystalline patterns by a myriad of smiths. It has been called by many names, Hindwani, Wootz, Utsa, Pulad, Bulat, Foulad, among others depending on the local language or tradition. The most commonly known name for this steel today is Wootz.
Thought to be lost by most, the making of this steel is now kept alive by many artisans all over the globe who treasure the history and mystery of this material. The members of the International Wootz Society engage in making modern versions of wootz and also recreating the processes and patterns of the ancient steel. Through the use of scientific tools and understanding, coupled with hard won experience at the forge, they are uncovering the methods and mindsets of some of the ancient masters. Our members consist of collectors, historians, smiths, and those who are fascinated by this wonderful and intriguing material.
President (Co Founder)
Tim Mitchell (Australia)
From Buffalo River Forge and Alpha Omega Knives was born in Australia and moved to the US in 1993 where he finished school. During this time he became interested in blacksmithing and bladesmithing, forming a friendship with a local blacksmith legend Ken Sharabok. It was while volunteering with Ken at the ’99 SOFA convention that he met Howard Clark and saw his first crucible steel blade. He had caught the bug and soon went on to be mentored by Al Pendray in his method and metallurgy knowledge.
Over the last two decades he has mentored other smiths, passing on his knowledge to the younger generation. He has contributed heavily to the subject of wootz steel making and history on bladesmithing forums and he has been the Admin of the Wootz Steel FB group and other private wootz chat groups for quite a few years. His passion in helping other smiths in their journey and to unlock the mysteries of the deep history, performance and patterning of the ancient crucible steel, led to the birth of the International Wootz Society in 2021.
Historical Officer (Co Founder)
Jin Singh (United Kingdom)
Descends from a family of traditional Indian blacksmiths. His Grandfather worked with fulad (wootz) and was the main influence for Jin getting involved with blacksmithing and wootz steel.
Founder of Wootz Militaria, arguably one of the most trusted organisations for the restoration of antique arms & armour, is respected all over the world by collectors, institutions & museums and has worked on thousands of wootz swords.
He has been a Consultant for television channels such as the BBC and The History Channel (Forged in Fire). He is one of last traditional Indian Wootz Smiths involved in making and forging Wootz steel. As a Sikligar (Indian Weapons maker) he has a wealth of knowledge on how ancient weapons were made using wootz steel. He is an active collector of Indo Persian arms & armour and promotes active research in the field. Jin is also one of the very few practitioners of the traditional weapons based martial art of Shastar Bidiya.
Certification Officer (Co Founder)
Peter Swarz-Burt (Hawaii)
Began making knives about 30 years ago while living in Maine, and has been a professional Bladesmith for over 25 years. His interest in wootz began in 1999 after reading an article on the subject by Pendray and Verhoeven, but it was not until 2001 that he began experimenting in earnest. It was during that year that he began melting ingots, and by the end of the year had forged his first successful wootz blades.
In the decades since he has made literally hundreds of ingots, some as large as 7kg, and slowly over that time he came to understand many aspects of this tricky material. It has only been in the past few years, mostly since moving to Hawai’i, that he truly began experimenting with wootz to begin working out the limits of what it could do and how he could get the results that he wanted every time. That exploration continues, as does his research into steel metallurgy as a whole.
Sebastian Szukalski B.Sc, M.Phil (Australia)
Is a collector of antique swords with an academic interest in the area of archeo-metallurgy of crucible steel. He has a focus for the application of modern mass spectrometry and radioisotyping and how it can be used for the analysis and dating of crucible steel artefacts.
Being an academic and a collector he brings a greatly appreciated scientific and research based facet to the Society Board.
Mert Tansu (Australia)
Is a full time knife maker based in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia. He was born in Turkey and lived there until 2005. Growing up in a touristic area he was always fascinated with the swords and daggers which he had seen in the Museums and his obsession with antique arms began to show itself for the first time when he was about 10 years old. While his friends were asking their parents for bicycles or skateboards, his end of year goal was to get good enough grades to make his parents buy him a replica Kılıç sword. After getting his first sword at the age of 10 he would have to wait for almost 30 years to get the next one!
While he has used many sharp knives for his work as a chef and a knife collector, his interest in steel and especially wootz steel peaked when he became a full time knife maker in 2018. Learning more about his roots and his great grandfathers legacy as a sword smith, he then started to connect the dots between his fascination with antique Turkish arms and wootz steel. He has now been collecting Wootz steel, Kılıç and Shamshir and for the last 3 years he has been working on wootz steel.
Two heads are better than one and a society is even better!
The most active Wootz smiths, researchers and historians got together to help build a society around the mysterious steel that is called wootz!