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© Copyright 2012 Ian van Reenen - The Cutting Edge • All Rights Reserved • Site Design by Jennifer Jones, Webbfeat Productions

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When Ian van Reenen left South Africa in the year 2001 to come to Texas, he knew that he came to a place that not only required endurance, but required guts. He came from a continent that was in turmoil, and much like Texas, an environment that never took kindly to weakness.

Like many journeys of discovery, this journey began with a crude, rough and unpolished map; but inch by inch, as the cold steel gives way to shape and form, a direction becomes a purpose. Using a self-made machine (a machine he would use for another ten years), Ian essentially taught himself to make a knife. Every misstep came with the pain of correction, every skewed line cost him a price.

Always fascinated with the art of knife making and concerned with the deteriorating economic situation in South Africa, Ian attempted his first knife in 1998.

Of course, no matter how hard one pushes oneself, a little guidance can go a long way.

In the town of Bethlehem in the Free State, men like Arno Barnard, Roy Clark and Billy Burger helped Ian take some of his first steps learn to make a hunting knife. Men will become endeared to each other while they are fighting together in the trenches of struggle, and when Ian attended a course in Pretoria instructed by Andre Thorburn, not only was a big step taken in Ian’s knife making; but something else was forged: a friendship.

It was at this course that Ian learned to make his first liner-locker and would begin to perfect his most popular model, named the “Safari.”

The breathtaking landscape of the plains of South Africa provided materials that truly defined Ian’s craft. Indigenous woods such as pink ivory wood and bone used from Giraffes and Merino Rams became staples of Ian’s liner lockers and hunting knifes; in addition, he was also fortunate to use the pearl of Africa: ivory. Being surrounded by such beauty and vast resources, Ian acquired a fine eye for materials which would inspire to use local sources upon moving to Texas.

There is a saying in Amarillo, Texas that goes “if you wear out one pair of shoes in Amarillo, you will never leave.” For many people, including Ian, this maxim is an absolute truth. There is something about Texas that makes one fall in love and quickly call Texas home. For Ian, it wasn’t the wind or the dust or the wide open landscape that grabbed his attention (as hard as that may be to believe), but the people of the Texas Panhandle, the people who welcomed an outsider into their community.

For the last nine years, Ian has become the premier knife maker of the Texas Panhandle, selling knives and forging friendships from Perryton to Dumas, from Hereford to Pampa; and further out into the wide ranges of Texas.

After concentrating on liner-lockers and hunting knives for his first few years in the States, Ian has recently begun to make slip-joints.

Of course, he still works hard on his hunting knives and lockers; his work continuously influenced by the work of D’Holder of Phoenix and R.W Wilson of West Virginia, but it was Bill Ruple of Pleasant, TX who helped Ian to make his first slip-joint. Even today, the work of Bill is still a big inspiration for every slip joint Ian makes.

Knife making is a craft that is best learned by oneself, grinding and slaving for hours upon hours to correct the smallest mistake; but even the smallest word of guidance can go a long way in achieving a breakthrough.

I made this hunting knife with the colors of the USA flag on the handle and stars are engraved on the bolsters.Engraving done by Alice Carter. It was presented to President Bush by Garth Merrick of Amarillo.

Blade Steel: 154 CM

Bolsters: 416 Stainless Steel, Hollow grind and hand polished.

Scales: Blue and red colored cow bone with ivory in the middle.

OAL: 8 1/2"

Blade Length: 3 1/2"


I truly feel very honored to know that President Bush owns one of my knives!!

Now in his 9th year of living in Texas, Ian has successfully and artistically combined elements from his African heritage into his new Texas identity. Like a man who loves his surroundings, Ian uses natural resources in Texas for artistic inspiration; and now his knives have handles made from white tail antlers, stag and mastodon ivory; and occasionally, Ian will use elephant ivory to showcase his proud South African heritage. Some of his most beautiful knives have handles made from the unmistakable and elegant mother of pearl.

Ian has traveled all over the continental United States going to knife shows, and has steadily begun to make a name for himself. Like all things good in life, there must first be a struggle and finally, a breakthrough. Like the men who toiled in the West to fight for a way of life that is truly their own, Ian has come to Texas and found a craft and a way of life that has set him free.