We are very proud to announce that the RiKwill Blue Grotto has been nominated by PenWorld for Best Contemporary Style.
So get your Feb15 issue of PenWorld and VOTE!!!
RiKwill Kaleidoscope has been nominated!
Pen Show returns to Manhattan Beach
Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2014 | Michael Hixon
One of the largest events of its kind in the world, the 26th annual Los Angeles International Pen Show will take place Sunday, Feb. 16, at the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel, beginning at 10 a.m.
More than 200 exhibitors from around the globe will converge for the show that features vintage, modern and limited edition pens, valued at prices for the average collector to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Hermosa Beach resident Rik Knablein turned his passion for collecting pens into creating his own pen lines, including MetalWrite in 2011, and then Rikwill more recently. He will have his own booth at the show. The Rikwill Kaleidoscope, one his latest creations, was nominated for “Best Interpretation of a Theme” in the magazine Pen World’s 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards.
“It’s strength (the pen show) is the breath of product – collectable, new, arty, practical – and a great place to learn about writing instruments since there is hundreds of years of writing, design and manufacturing experience at the show,” said Knablein, who headed NASA software programs for manned space flight at TRW in Redondo Beach. “I consider pens functional art for they allow the writer to express themselves in multiple ways, the look, the feel and the written word.”
Knablein was in the aerospace business from 1975, when he moved to Hermosa Beach, to 2009. He briefly worked part-time until he decided to dedicate more time to his pen endeavors and explore his creative side. When he received his MBA while working at TRW, Knablein’s daughter gave him a Montblanc fountain pen, which rekindled his interest in pens that started with gifts from his mother in high school.
Knablein’s Rikwill pens, including the new Kaleidoscope, are limited edition hand-engraved sterling silver pens with color enamel overlays. He designed the patterns, colors and shapes. While he designs the pens here, they are made in England.
A pop of color and a breath of fresh air…
Fountain pens bring spacecraft software developer back to earth
Former Northrop Grumman employee gave up his computer to indulge a long-held interest and begin creating limited-edition writing implements.
February 15, 2013 | By Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times
Spacecraft software developer Rik Knablein was sitting in front of his computer at Northrop Grumman in 2009 when he saw the handwriting on the wall.
He would leave his computer keyboard behind and begin designing and manufacturing fountain pens, he decided.
“I wanted to do something more artful,” said the Hermosa Beach resident who helped develop the software that controls the Hubble Space Telescope, ground-level radar, and tracking and data relay satellites that NASA used to replace ground tracking stations.
“I wanted to do something that involved both sides of my brain.”
Knablein is among hundreds of writing instrument enthusiasts taking part in the four-day Los Angeles International Pen Show, which ends Sunday in Manhattan Beach, where thousands of colorfully designed fountain and ballpoint pens will be on display for the public.
“When I was a kid my mom bought me a Sheaffer cartridge fountain pen that I used in high school. I guess that’s when I developed a fascination with pens. It just sort of went dormant when I went to college and started developing software at TRW,” the 66-year-old Knablein said.
His interest was rekindled when his daughter presented him with a Montblanc 149 pen when he completed a TRW-sponsored MBA program in 1995. Knablein was taken by its jet-black body, its gleaming gold nib and the way it smoothly moved across writing paper.
Soon, he was collecting pens and displaying them in wood-framed glass enclosures in his home. As his collection grew toward about 200, he made his decision to shift careers from aerospace to an industry that’s rooted in the 1880s.
These days he and partner Rich Littlestone of Denver have produced several lines of pens of varying length, width and weight. Some have an exotic, elegant look and are made of engraved sterling silver. Others are hand-painted with bright and flashy enamel.
“These colors were inspired by the color of the ties that politicians wear on television,” Knablein said, pointing to pens bearing colors he describes as “grape, lime, cherry and orange” that were lined up in a display case.
“I design them, and the barrels are made in Plymouth, England, at the Conway Stewart pen factory. Rich does the engraving on the metal ones. All the pens we make are limited editions — we make no more than 18 at a time. Having one of only 18 is a special thing for a collector.
“But most of my pens are used for writing: a writer in Florida writes her stories with a pen, a doctor uses one of my roller ball pens in his practice, a friend who is a financial consultant keeps one in a case on his desk for special signings.”
Sold as the RiKwill brand, his fountain pens are priced from $1,000 to $4,000. Users can select the type of nibs they want: nibs that are slightly ground down give handwriting a cursive, calligraphic look. Down-strokes look artfully pudgy, he explains; strokes to the left and right are skinny.
Most of his fountain pens come with roller ball inserts that can convert them into ballpoints if the user desires.
Although fountain pens fell out of favor when cheap ballpoints became available in the 1950s, Knablein and fellow enthusiasts argue they never have gone away.
“I think they’re slowly coming back into vogue. They require a little more attention than a ballpoint, but they give you more flexibility. There are many more ink colors available for fountain pens, probably 75 or 100,” he said.
“I really love the ability to write short personal notes by hand rather than with a computer keyboard. We are strapped to the computer all day, and it’s nice to see an appreciation for pen and paper.”
Los Angeles is a focal point of fountain-pen culture. Besides Knablein’s company, there are well-known pen sellers in Monrovia and Carson, and Canoga Park is home to the Yafa Pen Co., 35-year-old manufacturer and distributor of fountain and ballpoint pens.
Experts say Los Angeles’ annual pen trade show ranks with Washington, D.C.’s as the country’s largest.
The four-day trade show is at the Manhattan Beach Marriott at 1400 Parkview Ave. The first three days were reserved for about 200 pen dealers and traders who have paid a $170 exhibition fee, and the general public will be admitted Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for $7 a person.
Copyright 2013 Los Angeles Times
Pen lovers unite
The 25th annual Los Angeles International Pen Show takes place in Manhattan Beach Feb. 17
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | Michael Hixon
Pen aficionados from around the world will converge in Manhattan Beach for the 25th annual Los Angeles International Pen Show Feb. 14 to 17, to share their passion for a unique art form.
The event, which is open to the public Sunday, Feb. 17, is one of the world’s largest of its kind and features pens — vintage, modern and limited edition — that range from $10 to $300,000.
Hermosa Beach resident Rik Knablein, who headed NASA software programs for manned space flight at TRW in Redondo Beach, is a long-time pen collector who turned his passion into creating his own pen lines, including MetalWrite in 2011, and more recently, RiKwill. He will have one of the more than 200 booths at the pen show, which takes place at the Manhattan Beach Marriott from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Pens to me are functional art, they are like jewelry to me,” Knablein said. “You use them because you like to write, but you also use them because they look nice. That’s why you wear watches and rings and necklaces … so to me it’s a combination of those two things.”
When he received his MBA while working at TRW, Knablein’s daughter gave him a Montblanc fountain pen, which rekindled his interest that first began when his mother gave him pens when he was in high school. Knablein was in the aerospace business from 1975, when he moved to Hermosa Beach, to 2009. He briefly worked part-time until he decided to dedicated more time to his pen endeavors and explore his creative side.
“In doing software design, there’s a lot of art in it,” Knablein said. “Yes, there’s a lot of rigger in the mathematics, but there’s still a lot of art in doing the design and I like to connect those two things. There’s a lot of rigger in the measurements and the stuff we do in making pens as well, but there’s the design aspect.”
Knablein’s RiKwill pens, which range from $1,000 to $4,000 retail, are limited edition hand-engraved sterling silver pens with color enamel overlays. He designed the patterns, colors and shapes. While he designs the pens here, they are made in England. For most pen makers, silver is the metal of choice, but Knablein hopes to expand.
“Gold has gotten ridiculously expensive … it just blows you out of the market,” he said. “We could use other metals, but we’ve been doing silver for a long time and we understand how to engrave it and how to use it so I decided to stick with silver.”
Knablein said the pen show is driven by collectors, but there is a variety of retailers, manufacturers and opportunities for pen repair onsite. The event also features giveaways, including the grand prize of a Delta/Italia Hippocratica fountain pen, valued at $495.
Pen shows occur every month in different states, according to Knablein, who sponsors the 18th annual Atlanta Pen Show in April. Last year he donated two pens that were auctioned off to benefit a local children’s charity. The auction raised $2,000.
“I’m really proud of that,” he said. “It’s one of the things that makes running a little business fun. You can work with people and help out other folks too.”
For more information, visit www.lapenshow.com.
We are soooo honoured!
L.A.’s only luxury, limited-eidtion pen designer to unveil new models at upcoming L.A. Pen Show Feb. 17
Hermosa Beach Resident is Connoisseur in Rarefied Luxury Pen World
Los Angeles (Jan. 31, 2013) – Talk to Rik Knablein of Hermosa Beach and you will quickly learn the complexities, the art, the science and the passion of the world of luxury pens.
As L.A.’s only designer of luxury, limited-edition pens – and as he prepares to launch new models plus a new fifth line at the upcoming 25th Annual Los Angeles International Pen Show Feb. 17 – Knablein is, literally and figuratively, putting ink to paper to compete against brands as famous as Mont Blanc, Parker and Stipula.
Knablein – who with his partner Rich Littlestone started the award-winning Metalwrite brand in 2010 and now is penning solo with RiKwill products in 2012 – has been an avid pen collector for many years (he owns about 200 and inks up a couple each week). His appreciation for the instrument that survives, and thrives, in a post-handwriting world goes far beyond casual knowledge. He is a connoisseur who understands the subtle differences that a particular nib can make on the page, who is keenly aware that the weight of an individual pen is as important as the bouquet of a fine wine, who even distinguishes different sounds of a ‘click’ that a ballpoint makes.
“I am fascinated by the ‘passion’ in pen,” he said. “That’s represented by the precise Murelli engravings on Classic Pens or the complexities of the Sheaffer Snorkel, the Ancora Grand Complication and the Stipula DaVinci. It also includes the artistry of the Visconti Mazzi line or the feel of Michael’s FatBoys, the sound of the DuPont ‘click’ or the richness/color of the Conway Stewart Elegance.”
At the Los Angeles Pen Show, which is expected to attract thousands of visitors worldwide, Knablein will unveil his new models – LolliToo, BabbageCousinsToo, RevolutionToo – and the new line, PetiteKwill. His pens retail from $1,000 to $4,000 and thus his customers have disposable income and a taste for fine jewelry, cars, houses, travel and related luxuries.
Although most of his customers are avid pen collectors (who follow such websites as fountainpengeeks.com), Knablein says his buyers include a woman romance writer in Florida who prefers to write her manuscripts by hand, and a doctor who uses one of his products that comes with both a fountain pen nib and rollerball.
RiKwill features a wide variety of writing instruments, all engraved: fountain pens and ballpoints, classical and whimsical, brightly colored (the Lolli line was inspired by his love for lollipops) and sedate, boldly patterned and subtle. He has instruments in silver sterling and – rare in the pen world – enamel over sterling. For the discerning collector, he only produces limited-edition pens.
They come with nibs from extra fine to double broad, as well as in fine, medium or bold italic. Knablein recommends an italic broad nib because it writes broad on the downstrokes and fine on the left-right strokes, giving a calligraphic effect to the script. He recognizes that many of his customers demand such nibs, just as he appreciates that the weight and feel of each pen is important to the user.
Knablein believes that the key to RiKwill’s product line is his partnership with the Conway Stewart organization in England. “The combination of skilled craftspeople at the factory and outstanding U.S. marketing and design collaboration leads to superior products,” he said.
Designing new models is a continuous team effort, he says. During his annual visits to the Conway Stewart factory, many days are spent brainstorming future designs.
Knablein, who retired from an engineering career at TRW in April 2009, received his first pen, a Sheaffer fountain pen, from his mother in the early 1960s. Among his collection is a prized Mont Blanc 149 fountain pen, which was a gift from his family presented when he completed an MBA program at the University of Colorado.
Knablein is looking forward to the upcoming L.A. Pen Show, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel, Rosecrans and Parkway, Manhattan Beach 90266. With approximately 200 exhibitors and thousands of visitors, the show offers him an opportunity to talk to pen makers and designers and, most importantly, show his products to consumers.
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See RiKwill at www.RiKwill.com and locally at Huckleberry’s in Rolling Hills Estates, as well as at the LA Pen Show.
CONTACT: G. Bruce Smith
Smith Writing & PR