Story by Joshua Swanagon – Photos by Dirk Loots
A blend of fantasy and function is the hallmark of Dirk Loots’ unique style.
I will admit, I have never been much for fantasy style knives, because they often look a little too over the top for my taste (just a personal preference). However, when I saw Dirk Loots’ creations, I saw more than fantasy, but an artistic expression.
I have always been a fan of flowing, sweeping lines and exquisite materials that just pop, which is exhibited beautifully in Dirk’s designs that draw the eye through every aspect of his blades. Much like looking at a classic painting in a museum or art gallery, there is something about Dirk’s creations that hold the attention and inspire the imagination.
Along with his amazing knives and impressive professional photography Dirk has also added his unique style to the extraordinary lineup of new owners at Pop’s Knife Supply. When Dirk isn’t working on his knives or photographing knives, he is busy helping others make knives. A true knife guy, through and through.
1 – In the Family
Growing up in South Africa, Dirk and his brother were given knives by their knife maker uncle, at the age of 16. Due to his name, Dirk got a dagger – which remains his prized possession.
He first got the bug to make knives in 2011 when he took a fixed blade knife making course, at the Herbst Knife-Making Academy, while he was still living in Johannesburg South Africa. Although he doesn’t count the knife made during the course as his first knife, it is what got the ball rolling. In 2012 he made a knife and gifted it to his wife, who still has it to this day. It is this knife that he still looks to as his first knife and the constant reminder of where he started.
2 – The Challenges of a Unique Style
With his very distinct style of knives, Dirk finds it hard to break into the market as an established maker. He finds that it is hard to properly market his knives in a way that ensures they make it in front of the right people. This has led Dirk to begin doing his own photography – which quickly grew into its own branch of his business.
3 – Finding Inspiration
Dirk has many great inspirations – such as Wolfgang Lochner, Van Barnett and Owen Wood – but it was his mentor Bertie Rietveld that changed the way he designs and makes knives. Dirk credits Bertie with where he is in his knife making career today.
When it comes to his knife designs themselves, Dirk looks to nature for inspiration – having even used a crow and a stingray to influence a couple of his designs. He also looks to myth and fantasy to derive his unique style and tries to have a theme for each knife – which he generally only makes once.
4 – The Creative Process
Having a large portion of his inspiration come from nature, Dirk tends to get online and do a lot of research on a subject once he finds his muse. After he has the idea of the direction he wants to go with a design, he likes to sketch out a small version, feeling that he can get a better feel for the profile. Once he has something he is happy with, he will flesh it out to a 1:1 scale – sometimes involving a computer (especially when designing a folder or complicated knife) but not always.
5 – The Build
Typically, Dirk utilizes stock removal to create his knives, but does forge from time to time. What he really looks to do is forge his own mosaic Damascus and feels that all of the different things to learn and to try are what make this such a great profession.
6 – It’s in the Materials
When asked about his favorite materials to work with, he said that he likes working with most steels – from high carbon and titanium to stainless steels, to include Damascus versions of the high carbon and stainless steels.
When it comes to his handles, he prefers natural materials – like wood burls – as well as more exotic materials, such as mammoth ivory and pearl. However, when making hunting or utility knives he will combine micarta and wood.
7 – Location, Location, Location
As part owner of Pop’s Knife Supply, Dirk shares workspace with his three partners, Allen Surls, Andy Roy and Joey Berry in Braselton, Georgia. At this location Dirk and Allen film most of their Fellow Makers YouTube videos – make sure to check them out to learn more about Dirk, Allen and the Fellow Makers project.
8 – Ordering
Because custom requests never seem to pan out for him, Dirk does not take custom orders. He prefers to make what inspires him and then make them available across his channels. So, make sure to follow him so you know when one of his pieces becomes available.
Online: www.DirkLoots.comOnline: www.FellowMakers.comOnline: www.PopsKnifeSupplies.com Instagram: @Dirk.LootsFacebook: @DirkLootsPhotography
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Joshua Swanagon has studied survival in both urban and wilderness environments in Colorado and Michigan for most of his life, while also adding experience in harsher terrains abroad. He utilizes his experience and years of diverse martial arts and combatives training and real world application as a self-defense/combatives instructor, published freelance writer and Field Editor for various magazines in the fields of knives, survival, self-defense and tactical subject matters. Joshua also brings with him his years of experience as Editor of, and Subject Matter Expert for, Knives Illustrated Magazine.
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