Here is the first in a series of interviews I am featuring from my new book, The Sustainable Design Book. I've chosen to highlight a few of my favourite makers whose work and craftsmanship fits as well on these pages, as on those inside the book. Chelsea Miller makes some of the most beautiful knives I have ever seen and I wrote about her work a couple of years ago here. The knives are created by hand, from repurposed high-carbon steel taken from discarded tools, with handles of local maple, cherry and applewood. The result is incredible knives which are seriously functional with a unique aesthetic.
How did you become a knife maker? I started making knives in my fathers blacksmith shop after having seen a knife my brother had made. I asked him to teach me and by the second or third step I had taken over. I gave that first knife to a close friend of mine and I still use it often. Describe your style? My style is nontraditional, inspired by materials that are not typically used for things beyond their original purpose. I am excited by textures and grain and letting each piece find its final form. How is your work sustainable? My work is sustainable in the sense that I am repurposing old farm and farrier’s tools and milling wood from the living forest where I grew up. It’s fun to imagine someone cutting cooking with what once was a file used to shoe horses, when otherwise they would have never come in contact with such a tool. What tools and materials do you use? I use high carbon steel tools, all made in the US and wood native to my childhood home in the North East Kingdom of Vermont. I cut the desired shape from these tools with a torch, then grind them to the optimal thinness. I heat treat and temper the blades, attach wood handles and many, many hours later chop veggies and grate cheese. What inspires you? My inspiration comes from a need for balance in my life. I live in New York City, I occasionally act in films, knife making gives me the meditative time I need to focus all my energy on creating something very simple in theory yet quite complex in reality. I am also inspired by children and their power to create an imaginary world. I try to spend a lot of time there.
Thank you Chelsea!