The Machete Project: Photographer documents the beauty of utilitarian tools


Photo from Vanessa Ahlsborn (

A reader sent me this link from Slate the other day. It is about Vanessa Ahlsborn, a photographer who has traveled the world and become fascinated with the simple, everyday tools of the common person. She has documented this love on her blog, The Machete Project.

She started out as a bit squeamish about machete-style blades, especially given their association with massacres in Africa and elsewhere. However,

“For me, every knife tells a story. It’s a story about the locals, their culture and my travels, all bound up in metal. Large knives and machetes are versatile and extremely durable tools. They are a must for many. ” (from

Ahlsborn has collected over 100 machetes from all over the world. Most are the crudest of tools, often handmade, and often with decades of use behind them.

“I wasn’t interested in purchasing anymore tchotckes or keepsakes that had been manufactured specifically for tourists. So on a whim, I bought my first knife from a farmer on the outskirts of Fianarantsoa. It was a small hand knife that looked homemade. Both the handle and blade were formed from a worn and pitted metal and crudely fused together. It was dirty and sharp as a spoon.”

You can see Ahlsborn’s work at The Machete Project. Both the knives and the pictures of those who have carried them look to tell a thousand stories.


  1. Sam L. says:

    Have you seen the Mah-chete from CKRT? It’s on last week’s list of A.G.Russell’s specials (I just got to it).

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The Machete Project: Photographer documents the beauty of utilitarian tools

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