13 products to elevate a kitchen
Local makers create art for the kitchen
This month’s installment of Good Eats goes out to home cooks looking to turn their kitchen into a dream space. It’s easy to get inspired by the functional works of art created by the area’s most talented craftspeople. All your kitchen tasks are covered, from setting the table with stoneware from JD Wolfe Pottery, to cleaning up with linen tea towels from Milkhaus Design, to chopping vegetables with knives fitted with handles made by The Culinary Craftsman against a wooden cutting board from Matchless Made. These local makers use their own two hands to bring together function and beauty, adding to your home’s delight and comfort.
American Provenance, Outfitter, Apothecary & Mercantile
Founder Kyle LaFond and his team make natural personal care and home products
using natural and additive-free ingredients. In other words, American Provenance products do not contain any yucky stuff; they are not Franken-made in a laboratory from unidentifiable, unpronounceable ingredients arranged in a list that goes on for days. In collaboration with another local maker, Matchless Made (also on this list), American Provenance makes an all-natural, petroleum-free conditioner to treat your wooden cutting board right (purchase this item at matchlessmade.com). Also for the kitchen are beeswax and coconut oil candles in warm scents of cinnamon and coffee, which will create a soft glow at home on a cold winter evening. You can also shop online and in retail stores for the brand’s deodorants, beard balms, baby diaper cream, soap and lip balm. 9873 Blue Valley Road, Mt. Horeb, 709-8730
American Skillet Co.
Iron and fire. Artist Alisa Toninato is no stranger to sparks, heft and heat, which have helped shape her business: FeLion Studios. That’s where she welds handmade cast-iron skillets along with other items. “[The kitchen is] a scene, an event, a place of performance,” she states on her website. “The art I create has always been interactive, humorous, performant and theatrical.” Toninato is perhaps most known for her American Skillet Co. products–geographically inspired cast-iron skillets that take the shape of states. We hear the Wisconsin skillet is perfect for frying up a few brats just before game time. Her work is featured throughout the country, but in Madison, find it at Heritage Tavern in the form of a custom cast-iron coquette. She is also the maker of the cast iron Slo Pig annual skillet award created using the Slo Pig logo. 2825 Perry St., 308-1113
Can an apron be functional and sexy? Crystal K and her team at ApronEra think so. Shed the traditional apron and its dangling strings and give these a try. Crystal K was inspired to overhaul the ill-fitting kitchen frocks made for one frumpy body type (who was the model for these, anyway?). ApronEra’s aprons wrap the body in comfort and allow for movability using a V-neck-style pullover with a single suspender-style strap that runs from the back of the neck to the small of the back. With nary a string in sight, snaps keep it snug against your body. Check out the indigo denim aprons on display worn by the stylish servers at RED Madison on West Washington Avenue. This is an anti-establishment workhorse of an apron worthy of your hard day’s work. apronera.com, 570-439-7312
Between a small farm sawmill in Baraboo and an operation based on Madison’s east side is an environment that is “an urban area rich with trees that need to be shepherded into new life,” according to the Baraboo Woodworks website. Fred Clark, founder and owner, puts local hardwood trees into the hands of his general manager and master woodworker, Josh Rice. The result is one-of-a-kind, heirloom-quality dining tables in woods such as cherry, walnut, urban ash, honey locust and sugar maple, all with metal or wooden legs. These carpenters work with you to design a table that fits your space and style. Madison restaurants such as Sardine, Bloom Bake Shop and Tavernakaya have enlisted the expert craftsmanship and an eye toward good grain and organic shapeliness when designing their dining spaces. 84 N. Bryan St., 663-1010
The Culinary Craftsman
A onetime apprentice to Isaiah Schroeder of Isaiah Schroeder Knifeworks (see page 94) as well as at locally owned Chef Knives to Go, Alton Janelle IV has recently started his part-time solo path of creating custom handles for your beloved knives and sayas (Japanese-style protective sheaths) and offering hand sharpening of blades on Japanese water stones. In July, Janelle was working out of a studio at One-OneThousand, a place on the east side for makers to rent workshop space in a collaborative environment. Janelle says he already has a nine-month waiting list that’s growing, and he has fulfilled a few orders from local chefs, among them Tory Miller of L’Etoile, Graze, Sujeo and Estrellón. (Who knows? Maybe it’ll even help us chop those onions a little more quickly.) Instagram: @TheCulinaryCraftsman
Rolling Pins, Trays, Bowls and Peppermills
You see a fallen tree–Martha Downs sees new accessories for the home. Downs has worked in construction and woodworking over the last 30 years, and has gained national and global experience. She’s created custom cabinetry and furniture in Germany, worked on a housing project and help build schools in Nicaragua and constructed theater scenery in New York City. She builds all the furniture and home accompaniment pieces in One-OneThousand, downsworks, using locally sourced lumber whenever possible. Her hand-turned peppermills, French rolling pins and custom serving trays and bowls are examples of her exquisite craftsmanship. Downs selects the right wood, texture, grain and color for the particular job. Clear some counter space because you won’t want to keep these pieces in a drawer or cabinet. They are meant to be used daily and appreciated eternally. 78 N Bryan St, 620-4663
Coasters and Trays
It’s the little things that often make life easier. Jon Alling, founder of Human Crafted, gets that, and he answers the call when everyday frustrations come knocking. For example: the need for a quality coaster that prevents a sweating glass from leaving a ring on the table and doesn’t stick to the glass when you take a drink. Alling, an engineer and product designer, has created concrete and cork coasters with raised concentric circles. The materials are naturally absorbent, and the design prevents the coaster from sticking to a glass. Alling also turned his creative eye to alleviate another kitchen inconvenience–pesky pepper dust that accumulates underneath the grinder. Alling makes a sleek little dish for that. Another product Human Crafted offers is a sponge tray, also made from naturally absorbent concrete and cork. All of his products have a minimalist and functional design. humancraftd.com
Isaiah Schroeder Knifeworks
Knives and Plating Chopsticks
Local maker Isaiah Schroeder is known in the Madison-area restaurant scene for his beautifully crafted and Japanese-inspired knives, custom-made handles and wood sayas. His stainless steel Wisco cheese cleaver with a built-in bottle opener in the shape of Wisconsin is a must for the holiday table. Schroeder also periodically offers sets of Moribashi plating chopsticks used to perfectly arrange delicate food, such as sushi, with the finesse of tweezers. From the first set he created, chef feedback was positive and helpful in Schroeder’s quest to make function match beauty. His latest goal achieved: learning how to forge Damascus stainless steel to create the same artful pattern on the Bashi tips as is present on his blades. Schroeder welcomes all to come by his workshop and see the process. 1516 Gilson St.
Jack + Ella Paper
For every lost grocery list scribbled on the back of a used envelope, there is a frustrated shopper who manages to grab everything but the milk, cheese and bread they went to the store for. Jessica Bates, founder of Jack + Ella Paper, understands this frustration. Bates has created a sleek grocery list and meal plan notepad meant to organize even the most hectic of lifestyles. The tear-off notepad, the size of an 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper, allows you to plan a week of meals while keeping note of grocery items in a separate row. Tear on the perforated line, and voila–a perfect grocery list. This smart-looking stationery is on point and speaks to the list maker in us all. jackandellapaper.com
If you’ve ever packed a picnic for Concerts on the Square, you may have wanted to bring the “good knife” to cut the fancy cheese you packed, but you don’t have a safe way to transport it. One solution: Patrick Kelly’s wood cutting boards that have a fitted knife slot. Kelly, owner and founder of Matchless Made, creates sturdy boards that have a rope handle for easy carrying. These quality wood cutting boards made of walnut or cherry could become family heirlooms. The knife slot is built for the French-inspired knife the board comes with, but if you already have a utility knife you love, Kelly will build a board to fit it. 1337 Gilson St., 588-5383
Wouldn’t you love pretty tea towels to set your drying glassware upon while tidying up from a lovely dinner party? Bethany Nelson, artist and owner of Milkhaus Design, offers her custom-mixed, hand-dyed and screen-printed kitchen towels in darling designs. Repeating splashes of lines, grids or petite dots are printed on relaxed linen in neutral and warm colors that will pair with most any kitchen decor. They’re pretty, practical and stylish for the home. Modern and classic at the same time, each piece is a happy product of Nelson’s intuition, whim and imagination. Fall in love with every towel this Madison-based artist dreams up. milkhausdesign.com
The Regal Find
Find vintage items alongside hand-crafted wares in the whirly-twirly atmosphere of this Middleton store. The idea for hand-sewn aprons came about one day when owner Jessica Regele asked longtime friend and shopkeeper Carla Johnston if her mother (who was a known crafter for years, having made her children’s clothes) would sew her an apron that she could wear while she worked in the store. The apron was made of rose red floral and red and white stripes. “It was perfect,” Regele says. Today The Regal Find offers Jean Zirk’s aprons that Regele says are “impeccably done, pressed … every detail … from vintage-inspired patterns.” Zirk finds the fabrics on Etsy and has also sourced fabric from Agrace Thrift Store, where she is a volunteer. Regele has worn the original apron that inspired it all since she opened her shop four years ago. After many washings and dryings, it’s still in beautiful and perfect shape. 1850 Parmenter St., Middleton, 833-1633
With a knife and axe, this maker turns a block of rescued wood into a quintessential kitchen utensil–the spoon. Owner Thomas Bartlett hand carves wooden spoons that are all original pieces. Bartlett employs locally grown and sustainably sourced wood in his practice by creating items you can use again and again. Sometimes the spoons are left natural and unadorned. Over time, his spoons will show characteristic wear and take on a patina, unique only to you and your kitchen. Bartlett is well traveled, believing trees and forests are “fantastic things” and the best tree is a live tree. However, when a tree falls due to disease, storm or age, he sees to it to turn it into something other than firewood. “Helping people engage with nature in new ways is the best use of where my skills and passions intersect,” he writes on his blog. sylvaspoon.com, 421-3784
The Wood Cycle of Wisconsin
Rolling Pins, Cutting Boards and Bowls
Turning a basement hobby into a business, Paul Morrison creates furniture and kitchen accessories from locally felled hardwood trees at his Oregon wood shop and gallery. Morrison’s passion for carpentry took him to an abandoned farm with both goat and turkey sheds in Oregon, which is where he built the Wood Cycle and Hayloft Gallery, a family business complete with sawmill, drying kiln, workshop and gallery space. Morrison is a self-taught craftsman, able to work the entire wood-making cycle from raw wood to finished piece. He employs a team of expert artistic woodworkers and a sawyer. For the kitchen, Morrison creates rolling pins, cutting boards and bowls that tell the story of a southern Wisconsin urban landscape, both past and present. 1239 S. Fish Hatchery Road, Oregon, 835-8462
Kathy Brozyna is a Madison-based freelance writer. Read her blog “The Chow Down” on madisonmagazine.com
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