Bertie Rietveld knives are masterpieces
His art knives are like expensive paintings.
After 42 years, 67 overseas trips to knife shows and about 1,200 knives, his passion and creativity still has not waned.
Bertie Rietveld (59) is not only one of South Africa's leading knife makers, but one of the world's very best.
The native of Johannesburg, who made Maga-liesburg his home 33 years ago,'s love for knives caught fire in matric.
"In my matric year all my friends had hunting knives, and of course I also wanted to buy one, but the knives I could afford were weak and the knives I wanted to buy were too expensive, so I decided to make my own. . It then became my hobby for the next 21 years and I started practicing it full time in 2000, ”explains Riet-veld.
One of the factors that led to Rietveld's success in addition to his unique designs is his Damascus steel, which he forged for the first time in 1992. Eight years later, he came up with the idea to make Dragonskin Da mask steel. In the next few years, Rietveld saw improvements in the production of steel with the effect that his Massey power hammer called Shaya had on the process.
He has toured the world and is a well-known face in America, Canada, Italy, France and Russia.
"My knives have been spread all over the world. The Blade Show in Atlanta, USA, is the largest knife show in the world, and there are international knife collectors who come to buy my knives. Some of my knives belong to dignitaries in governments and even pop stars own my knives. It is indeed a great honor for me. The most expensive knife I have ever made is a Roman Gladius sword and sheath and I am happy to say that it is currently in a private collection in Johannesburg, ”says Rietveld.
His inspiration comes from the after-nature and anything with beautiful lines. He is careful not to look at other knife makers' knives. "I believe you fall into a trap to imitate something. This is why most of my knives are unique. Creating something unique requires a lot of dedication and sometimes a design takes me several years to finalize. I have many sketches that may one day come to light with a few changes as the next breathtaking creation on my table at a knife show, ”says Rietveld.
The Art Knife Invitation Show has only 25 members. Being a member of this elite group is a feather in any knife maker's hat.
"It is a show that every artist longs to be a part of, and to be elected is almost impossible for a South African because almost all 25 members are Americans. They are very patriotic and the existing knife makers have to agree new members. It took me 15 years to finally be counted as a member of the AKI.
"By the nature of the matter, it is an organization of the best knife makers in the world. It is a great honor for me to be a member of such an elite organization.
"The show is held every two years and I was elected in 2019, so my first show is this October, but due to a travel ban I can not attend the show.
"Luckily I have a friend in America who will take care of me. Of course it is not ideal, but it is the best I can do under the circumstances, ”says Rietveld.