It’s been a bit of a journey to get these copper bowls into existence.
First, there was the process of the design. My dear friend and colleague Julia is an amazing product designer, and we came up with the volume and tweaked the bead (the curved edge on the top) before sending our drawings to the fabricators.
At the fabricator’s in Ohio, we all sat around and played with the notion of how to spin this bowl.
What type of steel should we use for the tool? Anodized? Softer? If we start with a softer tool, can we harden it later if a ton of people fall in love with these bowls and we need hundreds of thousands (I can dream, I know)? What about adding a stainless steel wire under the bead rim? Can we do that? How?
In the end, a tool was made, and bowls were spun in .090 (that’s 3mm thick copper!) which is just strong and hard enough to support the bead rim without needing the wire underneath (whew!) and a whole tool just for that application.
These bowls are 5qt capacity and not only are they extremely heavy duty, but they are solid copper to boot. I feel like I need to stress this because there are other copper bowls out there. But there’s a huge difference. Most of them are made in China or India (a very very few are made in Europe) and they are actually either lightweight aluminum plated with a very thin layer of copper or it is a lighter gauge of copper sheet. You can tell because the copper actually starts to chip away with use or bends easily.
If you go cheap, it’s not 100% pure copper, so you’re definitely not getting the full chemical response when whipping those egg whites or preparing the pastries.
So, we have vintage reproduction 5qt pure copper bowls (CDA 122)! Ready for you, forever.
But the best part is the handles. That’s where the story really comes to life. And you know we’re all about the story here at HC!
Not only was it important that the handle for the bowls be made in America, but I wanted copper handles. Apparently (and not surprisingly) this was also hard to come by.
Enter the annual tinsmith convergence and connections via my master tinsmith Bob, and suddenly one of my new acquaintances said: “Sure! I can do that!”
This is Tom Miller, a three-tour US Navy Vietnam Veteran and retired police officer/CSI. He works in stained glass, wood, tin, copper and even ice and sugar when the mood hits.
Another Midwesterner (he lives in Michigan – right next door to my Wisconsin abode), Tom has just lost his wife of almost 40 years and has raised his six children (whew!). When he’s not hammering on my copper handles, he’s operating a masonry restoration company.
Tom jumped in. He made the copper pieces efficiently and opened the lines of communication with the fabricators so they could figure out the tweaks directly. With a few prototypes and some small changes, suddenly an order of 30 handles was filled and these bowls were set to hit the market right as everyone is thinking about Christmas gifts (hint hint!).
It is wonderful to collaborate with another craftsman. Working with him matches our philosophy of staying with small artisans and family owned/operated American companies. I hope tons of orders come in so that Tom can keep making these lovely handles for us – and so you can have a piece of hand-worked artistry in your hands yet again as you mix up some cookies.
PS – one of the coolest things about Tom (among other cool things): check out Tom’s awesome rescue of a newborn infant during the Vietnam War!