1964, USSR. This doesn’t mean a lot for many young (and not so much) people. Still, it was an interesting and peculiar period.
That year, a boy with an inquisitive mind and a gaze was born in a family of Moscow intellectuals. Let’s name him Justus. He actually is the hero of our story.
Those days complex processes were going on in Russian’s, sorry, soviet people’s minds. Official Soviet ideology with its harsh cold pathos (first think about the Homeland, then about yourself) closely intertwined with the dissident views of Galich, warm Romanism of Okudzhava, and thuggish romance of early Vysotsky. It’s difficult to say who was the main authority for every boy in a big or small city: Pavel Korchagin, Yuri Gagarin, or a thuggish neighbor, leading the group of boys from the block. Well, the last one was in authority for sure. Some respected him out of fear, others feared him out of respect. He was kind of a cowboy of soviet blocks, a captain of dumps and wastelands. His “Finnish knife in a pocket” was causing a thrill. Dangerous, illegal, forbidden...
His first unforgettable knife, our hero saw at a hardware store, where he with a friend stopped by to glance at a “squirrel”. Oh, yeah! Folding knife “Belka” type. A dream of every boy in the USSR. A miracle of technical squalor and aesthetic chaos. Even so, it was a real folding knife for 1,60 rubles with an 8,5 cm blade that laid comfortably in a hand and was decorated artistically. On its plastic handle, there’s something vaguely resembling a fluffy animal. The Soviet mass industry gave birth to millions of these utility and nowadays legendary freaks. This very knife our hero brought to school on September the 1st. Teachers were terrified and immediately withdrew the dangerous but precious in every boy’s life artifact.
Remaking and improving these knives took early years of the Master's life and became foreplay for the knifemaking-opera “Justus”.
He got sick. Sick for his whole life. Since then, he never had a break from the passion for the shimmering of steel, predatory curves of the blade, complexity of construction, engineering, and technological subtleties.
Years went by, The Iron curtain was falling down. More and more often you could meet foreign knives. Swiss Army’s Victorinox, Wenger, later on – customs, folders, flippers... Russia was taking author’s knives, like other previously unavailable foreign novelties, with sincere enthusiasm, and without any deep understanding.
Justus was working in industrial design, opened a printing house, had new dreams and ambitions, but always had this love for knives. He was assembling, collecting, producing, gifting knives to his friends and was always interested in knife expos.
He made his first folder in 2012. Folders are more difficult than fixed knives. Mechanics. Washers. Lock. Bearings. Clip. “I will make it”, he fought. And he did. It took time though. There were a lot of mistakes and attempts, some were successful, some not. But moving forward is the only way to get somewhere.
There’s an important note to make about our hero. Love for knives was not the only thing in his life. Family, business, he had it all. By the time Justus became the leader of the Fine Art knives race, he already had a pretty much successful printing house. So Justus makes knives not for the money, but because he can’t make them. Our hero does not accept orders for knives. His every item is a work of an independent artist. His works are recognized and admired. Beautiful handles from Justus are one of the legends of Russian knifemaking.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to Dementev Alexey Vladimirovich aka Justus. The best Russian Fine Art knife maker.