Ets(y) Wednesday: Concrete and Culinarium

From Top Left: Torus Concrete Salt N Pepper Shaker SetConcrete Hexagon Coasters; White Square Embossed Coasters; Concrete Utensil HolderSpice Rub Set

I honestly can’t remember how I came across the Culinarium but I’ve admired their work from afar ever since. I just adore the sleek, modern style and thoughtful functionality. The Culinarium sells, as they say, Kitchen Requisites & Epicurean Accoutrement.  You’ll find utensil holders, coasters, salt and pepper shakers, salt cellars, a cutting board, and more.  Any of these items would be welcomed wedding and/or Christmas gifts.   
Concrete certainly can’t be an easy material to work with especially with the precision that their products require.  Below are just a few questions I asked of Jordan, the shop’s owner.  Be sure to check out his blog.  There are some great pictures of his workshop! 

1. What is your favorite piece of all the items you sell?
I really do love all of the products that we sell.  I know that may sound a bit narcissistic, but the fact is that I made a conscious decision to fabricate things that I, myself, would like to own. I considered adding some rustic pieces for instance (because that is an aesthetic that seems to appeal to a lot of people when they think of concrete). However, I scrapped that idea to pursue products that appeal to my own sensibilities.  Having said that, I would say that I like the salt and pepper shakers the most…Believe it or not, it took me about a year of trial and error to come up with the design for the shakers. My conclusion is that if it took me that long to come up with a design for a salt and pepper shaker, either I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, or perhaps the design is a great one that is worthy of a year of my toil…I will settle somewhere in the middle.
 They are very simple, but they work well… this is a quality that I am always aspiring to incorporate into my products. It is ironic, though: I have yet to sell one!

2. Have you ever considered adding flyash or other recycled material into your concrete mixture?
 Currently, I use silica fume (which is recycled from silicone manufacture) as well as recycled stone dust (which I source from granite producers). I used to use fly ash, but I feel like I get a better mix due to the nature of the size of the silica fume particles, which are a lot smaller than that of fly ash.

3. Your blog features some great shots of your workshop.  Where and/or how did you obtain most of your equipment?
 Most of the equipment in those pictures is not mine.  I share a shop with some three of my friends. They own most of what you see…They have been gracious enough to teach me how to use all of the tooling. I am lucky to be aquainted with such talented friends to bounce ideas off of: two of them are award winning knife crafters, and one teaches at MIT. These guys have all forgotten more than I will probably ever know when it comes to machining.

4. Any new items we should be on the lookout for?
 I am currently working on (among other things) bowls, trays, knife blocks, and a new generation of salt cellars. I hope to have some of the bowls and trays done for this year, everything else will probably be rolled out next summer.

5.  It appears you are a jazz buff, what is your can’t-live-without album?
 Boy, that is a tough one. There are so many fantastic albums out there. I guess I listen to different albums based on the mood I am in, and how much attention I can pay to the music…If I were stuck with one album for the rest of my life, It would certainly be a Kenny Wheeler album. Either Deer Wan, or Music for Large and Small Ensembles. I have been listening to both albums for years, I never get tired of those recordings.  Aside from Kenny’s very unique horn playing, the albums could not be more different, but they are both awesome. I suppose that if I had to pick between these two albums it would probably be the Ensembles album, but this is only because it is a double album, so there is more music to listen to.

 It is worth noting: if someone asked me what album they should check out to listen to Kenny Wheeler, It would not be the Ensembles album, it would be the Deer Wan album. This is because I think that the Deer Wan album is a lot more characteristic of Wheeler’s sound and sensibilities (no music before or after Deer Wan is anything like Deer Wan). If someone were to listen to the Ensembles album for the first time, they might dismiss it as a weird big band album with North American themes (almost like a cowboy sountrack), but I dont believe that is where that album is coming from. Only by listening to Deer Wan, can you appreciate Wheeler’s subsequent work. 

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