I was born in Milano, Italy on November 5th of 1962 and came to the USA the old fashioned way, with my family and all of our furniture and belongings, by ocean liner in December of 1965 when I was three years old. I grew up here in NYC and am fluent in both languages and a dual citizen. I live in beautiful historic Brooklyn Heights overlooking the southern tip of Manhattan from my swank penthouse that straddles the rooftops of two 1840's townhouses, with my twelve and a half year old daughter, who also happens to love knives and lives with me full time. It's a fifth floor walk up, but it's worth it for the view, the light, and the fifty foot terrace facing the city and the Statue of Liberty, one of the ladies I happen to love. I studied art and literature at Bennington College in Vermont and then went on to study photography in Pasadena/Los Angeles at The Art Center College Of Design. I work as a freelance photographer and have been working professionally in New York, and around the world, for twenty seven years, though for the past two now going on three years there has hardly been any work, it has been a struggle. I photograph people, places, objects, and food both in the studio and on location. I also pursue my own fine art photography projects now and again.

I don't take myself seriously except for my parenting and my work. I'm very humble, but I am extroverted and always speak my mind, honestly and engagingly, and I always seek that openness and honesty in my friends. I have been blessed with and by an extraordinary family and feel that I have lived a charmed life. I love to cook (more knives to use and collect there!), eat, drink and be merry. I have a million interests and I try to follow up on every one.

My first knife is a rather gory story, but being amongst friends I'll tell it anyway. My Dad gave my first Victorinox Swiss army Knife when I was nine years old. One warm summer day in the old neighborhood up in the Bronx a delivery truck came and delivered three new refrigerators to the building next door, and later that day there were three perfect and huge, for a nine year old anyway, heavy duty cardboard refrigerator sized boxes out on the street. My friends and I decided to drag them back to my house where we decided we would build a "submarine" and so we laid two of the boxes down lengthwise on the ground end to end with the third standing vertically between them as the conning tower, and then manned our stations inside! It wasn't long before we decided we needed to make a control and instruments panel for the submarine and that's where the left over styrofoam blocks that came with the boxes came in handy. So I pulled out my nice and still fairly new Swiss Army knife and taking a block of styrofoam started to cut it with my knife. Truth is you're not supposed to cut styrofoam with a knife, you're supposed to use a saw, and the reason for that is that knives will slip in, on, and through styrofoam whereas a saw will give you more control.  OK, here it comes. Slip! I went through four-fifths of my left thumb right at the knuckle and it was dangling there by that last fifth. There is an artery in our thumbs... I put my thumb in my mouth instinctively, might as well save the blood I thought and it kept me from screaming! Luckily my mother had just returned home from work and promptly rushed me to the Hospital. The fine doctors at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx were able to put me all back together again, and it works just fine and never bothers me although the knuckle does make a light cricking sound and vibration when I move it. You know when you fall off a bike you're supposed to get right back on it, right? This early experience never phased me and never turned me off of knives, it only underlined for me the fact that you have to use the proper tool for the task at hand and that you have to respect the particular qualities and characteristics of each tool, and a Swiss Army knife is a whole toolbox in your pocket, so let's just call it an educational experience.

Throughout my life I have always been fascinated by knives. I always liked them and always wanted them whether or not I could afford them, when as a kid I would see the old Schrade or Case display cases in the better hardware stores, or when traveling to visit my family in Europe where they (Europeans not my family) still have now, though far fewer than when I was younger, whole stores devoted just to knives, from working, to chefs's, to gentlemen's pocket, to custom made all in one shop. My heart would flutter, I was in love. As a grown up I still remember and relive in my current travels the joys of buying or even just seeing knives, an Opinel work knife and then finding a shop that had custom ones made for them in France, or my first switchblade in Italy, or a wonderful gentleman's knife with all nickel silver handles at the flea market in London, the Puuko knives I picked up in Finland, the little specialized knife shops that surround the streets around the central fish market in Tokyo, the countless knives I have seen and studied in shops and in flea markets, and even in museums around the world. Now there's the internet, and I can just sit on my butt all day and do the same, although I sometimes feel like I have to dig out a lot of rock before I find the jewels.

Favorite knife/knives? I don't play favorites really. Though I do have a distinct preference for wood handles, I love the warmth and depth and individuality of wood, I also like black handles especially pure black buffalo horn again for it's warmth, and I also like the coolness and sleekness of all metal handles. I like working knives and dress knives and even work of art knives. I don't have a favorite color, or food, or artist, or author, or music, I like and need them all. Would I ever part with my knives? I really don't have that many, only a little over a couple of dozen now (not including kitchen knives, that's another issue), though that amount seems to be growing slowly but surely, and I'll have to part with them when I pass them on to my daughter, no rush. Is it the form or the function of a knife that attracts me? I would say that the two are married at the very birth of a knife, and should they divorce, well, then that's not a good knife, is it? In photography we have a saying that is, "The best camera is the one you have with you," and I believe that the same holds true for knives, it doesn't matter what you're carrying as long as its there when you need it.

For years I had kept my knives wrapped in cotton handkerchiefs in a box in my room and for years my daughter would ask once in a while whether she could take them out and look at them. We share a lot of the same characteristics she and I, whether its nature or nurture I'll never know. We like the same activities, we play together and we each have blowguns, a big one for me and a smaller bore one for her, it's a lung capacity thing, and we love target practice with these incredibly sharp darts at a range of fifty feet. I also enjoy precision air rifles and share that target practice experience with her as well. Last Christmas I was thinking about what other slightly age inappropriate activity I could turn her on to, and I decided on throwing knives, so I bought for us to share the biggest nastiest set of Cold Steel throwing Bowie knives they make. Yeah I would have loved to buy us some vintage Tru-Bal Harry McEvoy made throwing knives, but the ones we got are inexpensive exact copies and for beginners like us that'll do. But I didn't just want to give her something big and unwieldy like that, I thought that she was finally mature enough to own something small and pocketable that she could carry everyday (not in school though!), a knife she could truly call her own. So I went back to my roots, figuratively speaking, hopped on ebay and bought her a few knives that I remembered struck me in my youth as objects of desire, a Victorinox Swiss Army, a Schrade USA LB5 and just for good measure a Schrade USA LB7. I guess I gave her a whole collection at once, but I found I couldn't resist! It was in searching through the knives on ebay that I happened to search for vintage knives and THAT opened up a whole new can of worms for me! Man the memories that search brought back, the names and manufacturers that had disappeared to the back of my mind, not to mention the old time manufacturers and the new ones I had never heard of, or the styles I had never seen! That's when and where I discovered this big fat pocket knife called the "Sunfish" or "Elephant Toenail" and that led to a picture of a Charles Platts and Sons Jumbo Swell Center that absolutely blew my mind, and that led to this site called elephanttoenails.com which was an education in its own right, and at the top of the news page on that site there was this notice that said that the whole site had moved to a place called iKnifeCollector.com

Well, all I can say now is, thanks a lot! You be the judge of whether I'm saying that in earnest or sarcastically!?!? Honestly, both. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed, since joining late last December, the range of characters to be found here on iKC. Our discussions and interactions have been fun, sometimes funny, always interesting and informative, truly educational, and most importantly profoundly human, a way for us to connect, share knowledge, and bond together as a group. Though through our pages we may reflect our different tastes and preferences, our varied levels of experience, education and sophistication, or the inequalities of our budgets, the range of our ages and professions, and even the distinguishing characteristics and diversity of our regions or national origins, we are all bound together by one seemingly boundless love and joy, our shared admiration of the knife in all its thrilling forms and functions. We share something that we may not even share with our close friends, our family members, or even our lovers or a spouse! That's pretty special...

I have been asked by the directors of this site to start a new page or discussion, a " featured member" area, which will be an interview and article appearing every month or so, more or less, here on iKC. I hope you will join me and actively participate, both as interested readers and willing subjects of my interviews, and thereby get to know your neighbors here, be they near or far. I'll give it a go and do my best to keep it interesting, informative, and true to character in an effort to make these verbal portraits live and breathe. 


I'm looking forward to this project and to getting to know some of you better, now and in the future.


Tags: Luca, bio, interview, member, spotlight

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Luca .. Welcome to iKC !!!!


Interesting bio .. I enjoy hearing the mix/range of activities you & your daughter share. Tis cool !!!


Fridge boxes to submarine .. now there's one to pass on to the next gen ..  just skip over the bleeding part.


:D ale





Oo0ah .. 'n Opinels .. aren't they about the most practical lil utility knife around !!!


I must have one  in the .. garage.gardening tools.laundry rm.car.toolbox.kitchen.tractor...........

Dale, don't forget to keep one in your submarine!
Luca, congratulations on a great new feature for us. I really enjoyed reading this and what got your interest in knives in the first place. Thanks for sharing your story.

...  tis color coordinated !!!

Luca Vignelli said:

Dale, don't forget to keep one in your submarine!

Dag-nabbit,  where's the "LIKE" button.


Great Bio.  (Gonna be hard to top.)

Hey Luca,

I'm a professional knife & hawk thrower and a Hall of Fame inducted Teacher. If you and your daughter ever get down to South Jersey look me up and we can have some fun. I teach for the love of the art - no money involved. I've taught all 7 of my girls and many others to throw. I also play with blowguns, whips, cards, and other weird things. I've got hundreds of knives you both can try out to see what you like to throw without having to buy them first.

Be well, ed

Ed, That is an offer I will gladly take you up on one of these days and I thank you wholeheartedly! Please feel free to friend me here and we can swap contact info privately. My daughter will jump out of her skin with excitement when she hears about your warm and generous offer, and honestly I'm looking forward to it too! 



Ed Imperatore said:

Hey Luca,

I'm a professional knife & hawk thrower and a Hall of Fame inducted Teacher. If you and your daughter ever get down to South Jersey look me up and we can have some fun. I teach for the love of the art - no money involved. I've taught all 7 of my girls and many others to throw. I also play with blowguns, whips, cards, and other weird things. I've got hundreds of knives you both can try out to see what you like to throw without having to buy them first.

Be well, ed

I enjoyed your bio, Luca. I look forward to the other bio's you will be conducting and adding . This was a pretty good idea. I also was hooked on the Sunfish/Elephant toenail patterns from first sight.
Thank you for your insight and bio it was great you know what happen to me when i was young and what happen to you is so similar it is funny. Thanks luca for the story. hope to get to exchange storys with you. Hope you and your daughter have a good time collecting togather it us a great hobby to pass down. Thanks again. ..
Still a great read Luca.

Wonderful Luca! I have a very similar incident at about the same age!!!!! And actually it is also on my left thumb at the knuckle!!!!! I cut through the tendons and at the hospital the had tho cut up toward my arm some to get the tendons and sew them back so I have a "J" on my thumb from the scar :-)) Knife personalization at 9!!!! Glad you came to America and I wish the best in health, happiness and prosperity!

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