Our Interview with Kirk Speer, Nibmeister Behind the Needlepoint
You may know Kirk Speer under a few different names: his own, Nib Wolf, or Pen Realm. A native of New Mexico, Kirk now lives in Colorado and has been working in the pen industry ever since he fell in love with repairing a Parker 51. Since then, his online retail store, Pen Realm, has become a worldwide shop for pens and stationery-related products.
We were lucky to be able to collaborate with Kirk on the new Needlepoint nib. This nib is a super-fine addition to our custom nib line and has all of the telltale traits of Kirk's abilities: it's precision to detail and careful engineering are trademark's of Kirk's abilities.
Get to know the nibmeister a bit more by reading our interview below.
What is your professional background? Did you train to become a nibmeister/how did you become one?
Originally in civil construction, I discovered fountain pens and was hooked when I found a Parker 51 for $5 in an antique shop. Living on a modest income, I was not able to send out pens that I had purchased with defective or bent nibs for repair, so I learned how to repair nibs myself. Sharing my work on social media, others asked if I also did custom grinds, so I said let me see. Being in Colorado, there is nobody local to train under, so I took the information shared online by Richard Binder, bought a bunch of cheap nibs and went to work.
Which is your favorite nib to grind?
My favorite is the one I'm doing for someone right in front of me, especially when that person is getting their first grind. The satisfaction and joy they get is hard to beat.
Which is your favorite nib to use personally?
I personally write very small, so I tend to use those smaller nibs, the Posting nib probably being one of my favorites.
Which is your most requested nib? Why do you think that is?
My architect is probably my most requested grind. The transformation of the lines it produces, along with its smoothness and user friendliness, really makes it stand out.
Can you describe your technical process in brief?
Generally speaking, I cut the facets of the nib with a powered diamond cutter, and then I fine tune the nib to the clients desires using micro mesh.
How would you describe your style as a nibmeister?
My style seems to be unique to me in some ways. I credit my father for the way he helped to develop the problem solving skills I now possess. I view the work as both art and geometry. I use a less common free hand technique in my grinding, and pursue creating beauty in both how the nib looks and writes.
What is your favorite thing about your role? My favorite is the joy that others receive when I hand them back their pen. Fountain pens are a big outlet for many people to both find happiness and to relieve stress, so having a part in that means the world to me.
Tell me about the custom nib you are working on for Esterbrook? What makes it unique?
The Esterbrook nib that I make is a type of needlepoint. It gives a very precise line good for writing small in tight spaces like the margins of books or bibles or maximizing the use of a notebook. It can also be very good for artists and sketching, The nibs are a bit unique in that they don't grab or tear paper, and the shape of the tip is not common to traditional needlepoints. It was inspired in part by my love of the posting nib.