Our Background Story
If you've read this far into our website then you probably feel you are starting to know us a little bit and you may be curious as to who we really are and why we do what we do.
Well, that's me [Tracy] on the left and that's Pete in the photo below. Now we have been introduced, these are our stories.
Why We Make Oven Tools
This sounds really dumb now, but we never gave oven tools a thought until we lit our wood fired oven. Never even considered how we were going to get that pizza and bread (and those haunches of roast meat and crispy vegetables) that we'd been anticipating making (and eating) for months beforehand, from point A to point B.
We'd planned our wood fired oven meticulously. We'd researched, attended a workshop, we'd even made a model - and finally, there we were with our first feast in our magnificent wood fired oven and we were using A STICK to push things around. It didn't seem right somehow.
I kick myself now when I think about it. I could have had a wood fired oven years earlier if only I'd thought about how we were going to get the food from A to B. But in all the wheedling and cajoling and listing of very practical reasons why we should have a wood fired oven, I never thought to say the magic words - “of course, once it's built, we'll need some tools”.
Why are these magic words you may wonder? Well, my husband Pete (see left) is a blacksmith and there is NOTHING a blacksmith likes more than making tools.
You may think being a blacksmith is all candlesticks and iron gates and horses shoes – but that's just not true. Blacksmiths make tools. Whatever ‘end products' you see for sale, they are really just an excuse for the endless formers and benders and shapers that a blacksmith makes and then remakes and then melts down to make something else. They like their tools.
Chefs like their tools too. We're big on favourites. Favourite knives, favourite bowls, things that fit their purpose and your hand. My kitchen is chock a block with things Pete has made just for me. Hooks and pot racks, spoon holders and something to put the paper towel in – little love tokens in every drawer.
Only trouble is, and I hate to complain, but, IT TAKES SO LONG, and there’s the five prototypes and ‘oh well, back to the drawing board’ and ‘are you sure it has to be that wide?’ to contend with.
So when I saw that little gleam appear in Pete's eyes at the thought of making wood fired oven tools, my first reaction was to squash it, hard.
Honestly, I know the grass is always greener, but we'd just MADE the oven for god's sake - and while it was immensely satisfying to tote all those rocks, trim up seemingly endless fire bricks, track clay all through the house and have hair full of cement dust for a week - every now and then it would be nice to acquire a possession WITHOUT ONE OF US HAVING TO GIVE BIRTH TO IT.
It was words similar to those above, uttered with great force and in a rising (some might say shrill) tone, which got me your bog standard, just-like-everyone-else’s, store-bought, aluminum paddle.
It worked okay, but it didn't look or feel right with our beautiful rendered oven. And of course, we still needed a few other bits and pieces to get the job done. Bits and pieces that were now beneath Pete's professional interest and which could only be given the bare minimum of his attention because there wasn't going to be anymore tool making or birth giving on this job...
Things accumulated. The stick with the nail in it stayed because it was good for moving pots, a cut down shovel (that was originally for cleaning out gutters) was good for shifting the coals around with, a trowel wired to a dustpan handle served as a kind of large egg flip and there were various other half-arsed things lying around. And I mean lying around - Pete would demonstrate his contempt for these items by barely bothering to stand them up after use – and the space around the oven started to take on this forlorn look, something like the aftermath of a garage sale.
Pete never said anything about it. Neither did I. And funnily enough, in the end, it was this lack of dialogue that made me give in. You see, when someone who likes things just so and someone who likes to make things get married, the reason that they are a match made in heaven is not (as some might think) because he can pander to her every whim, but is in fact because they ALWAYS have something to talk about.
Up until then, our one-on-one conversations would essentially go something like this – complaint (from me), suggestion (from Pete), refinement (from me), counter offer (from Pete) and so on until we agree to make something to suit, which could of course then be complained about, refined and remade endlessly according to whim and the number of new complaints available from which to make conversation.
This dialogue was (god I hope this soppiness doesn't put you off) a constant affirmation of our love and respect for each other. And I missed it, badly.
I spent a couple of wretched days wrestling with my pride about exactly how much I was prepared to beg and grovel, but in the end it was quite easy:
We were eating pizza in our newly acquired silence and I just took a deep breath and said “that bloody shovel's not very practical”…
PLEASE NOTE: This wood fired oven tools conversation is a long way from over yet. Currently we're taking about party prep trays and bug-proof ingredient containers that keep all your toppings cold…
Why We Make Our Knives
Pete's blacksmithing mentor, now long gone to that great forge in the sky, battered many things into Pete and generally, in a tough-love sort of way, placed him on his path. He's owed a big debt of gratitude, but two things he battered into Pete have really got in the way – never trust women (hopefully, after ten years together, we've kind of dealt with that one) and never make someone a knife.
From the mentor's point of view, both bits of advise were pretty practical and scarily self-reinforcing – his favourite apprentice (“like a son he was”) got himself stabbed by his girlfriend with a knife the old fella had made for her.
You can imagine then how much I treasure the first knife Pete made me. I kind of think of it as a declaration of feeling; him saying “Advice be dammed, I trust you enough not to stab me”.
Anyway, that's our little love story in a nut shell. When other people talk about how they knew their partner was ‘the one', I've learned to be considerate and wait until I think everyone's done before I share our tender tale - because when I finish, there's always this silence and the topic changes – obviously people just get overwhelmed by the romance of it…
Anyway, hopefully you now have some inkling why, if you clicked on the Knife Page expecting to see a vast selection of scary implements to butcher cows and murder vegetables with, we only make these three special purpose knives… the Mezzaluna, the Dough Cutter and the Bread Knife.