Swordsmith, Researcher and Product Designer
Johnsson has documented over 100 medieval swords in private collections
and museums across Europe.
The scattered remains of past ages have always held a strong attraction
When, as a child, his parents took him to visit museums, the experience
left him mesmerized. The thought of what the fragments of past
times might have been witness to stirred his imagination.
As many other kids, he felt that armouries, with their dark and
suggestive atmosphere, were especially exciting.
On his eighth birthday he got a small anvil as a gift from his
father. That was something that had profound influence on him.
He was deeply satisfied and proud when he, under supervision of
his father, forged his first knife from a small lathe tool and
was told how to harden it with linseed oil.
At that moment a seed was planted. He knew he wanted to learn
how to forge a sword - a real one, like the ones heŽd seen hanging
on the walls of museums and armouries. He hammered happily away
on his little beloved anvil, striving to realize the dream, while
cold-forging miniature swords from gas welding rods. In the end
the anvil got so badly bruised and dented that it was no longer
of any practical use. The dream to become a smith would have to
wait a few years yet.
Peter turned his interest to pen and paper and this eventually
led him to take an MA degree in graphical design and illustration.
He became an illustrator of childrens books, and designer of
pedagogical information. He still enjoys doing this on a part-time
freelance basis. However, after some years being illustrator,
the urge to become a smith could no longer be ignored. Peter took
sabbatical leave from his profession to start learning the trade
and craft of the blacksmith by studying decorative metalwork and
forging for four years at a school for arts and craft.
This was a very rewarding period, during which he got the opportunity
to deepen his knowledge about the forging of steel and its heat
treatment, which became a special interest.
As a final project at this education, Peter dealt with the reconstruction
of the sword of Svante Nilsson Sture, who was the regent of Sweden
1504-1512. This was a rare opportunity to study an authentic top
quality-fighting weapon from an interesting period in Swedish
history. Peter had the privilege to handle the original at several
occasions. The result of the project was a replica of the original
sword and a book dealing with its history, as well as the process
of the making of a sword.
Thoughts on Swords:
A sword is a symbol of many things. The complexity of its associations
adds to its symbolic power.
When you handle a well made sword it is difficult not to be affected
by this. The sword represents chivalrous ideals, but it is also
the weapon with which the warriors slew the innocents.
It is a significant symbol for the continual strife for mastery,
for good and for bad. It is a sign of both triumph and defeat.
It is a tool whose influence can make man a hero or a mindless
It takes knowledge to make a sword and it takes experience to
know how to wield it, but it has often served powers that are
motivated only by prejudice and ignorance. For modern man it might
represent a longing back to ages long past which are believed
to have been easier to understand and grasp. Still, if a sword
is not first of all made to be a fully functional weapon, it is
a pitifully foolish thing that cannot carry any symbolical power.
A sword must not fail in its practical use. A badly made sword
is a very disappointing thing, since sloppy, thoughtless and careless
craftsmanship belies the very source of its intrinsic power. The
purpose of the shape and dimensions of a sword is to ensure its
wielder control of the thin line of its edge, across which it
ceases to exist. The need to be alert and conscious about how
the overall shape sets conditions for the details, and how the
details lead to results in the performance of the completed sword
is an inspiring necessity in its making.
making of a sword is a joy and a challenge. A sword demands careful
consideration and attention to details to be brought to its full
power. It is a source of both pride and humility for me as a smith
to strive to emulate the stark and elegant simplicity and the
high level of craftsmanship of original historical swords.
I want the swords I design and make to be true to historical
swords in quality, style and feel. To achieve this I continually
examine swords in museums and collections, and base my work on
observations and notes from these studies. Sometimes I make a
direct copy, sometimes I combine features from different swords
to make a new one that still has the handling characteristics
of the originals and shows a style which is possible to associate
with a historical period.
like customers to feel that the sword they own is true to its
predecessors: a well proportioned, responsive and reliable weapon
recreated according to the likeness and example of real historical
will be introducing truly historic recreations of swords throughout
history designed by Peter from his research, the Museum
Line. Other swords offered will include original designs by
Peter, based on period types and their characteristics, the Next
Generation Albion Mark Line.