Coveted: Brenda Watts’ French Rolling Pin

Brenda Watts' French Rolling Pin

Brenda Watts’ French Rolling Pin

A French-style rolling pin is ideal for pastry. The tapered ends pivot to work the dough into pie-crust-perfect circles, and the slender profile applies only a gentle touch, which helps keep tarts and croissants flaky. Carpenter Brenda Watts has been making them at Cattails, her Hermitage, PEI, studio, for the past decade. She started making them because her sister, who is a baker and worked at a kitchen store, wanted a French pin for herself. Watts, who studied woodworking at Holland College, uses locally harvested flame birch and brings out the wood’s naturally flamboyant grain by sanding it to a sheen then finishing it with sunflower oil and beeswax from a local beekeeper. Aspiring Julia Childs will appreciate its soft, warm grip. Everyone else will just admire how good it looks on the kitchen counter. French rolling pin. 22 “ l. x 2” dia. $50. Through shopbrendawattswoodwork.com.

This piece originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on Thursday, March 28, 2013.

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Coveted: A Pair of Maple Knives

The Federal's Maple Knives

The Federal’s Maple Knives

When friends and industrial designers Ian Murchison and Rohan Thakar left their jobs at Research in Motion a few years ago, they wanted to work on projects that had a more organic quality. So the Carleton grads started the Federal, an Ottawa-based studio that makes tactile, nature-friendly products such as sheep’s wool earmuffs and plywood desk lamps. Even their knives have a soft side. While most tools of butchery have a menacing look, these blades are more aptly described as warm. With the exception of the honed metal edges, they are made entirely of sealed, food-safe Canadian maple – the waving grain of the wood giving them a gentle, painterly effect. Through thefederal.co.

This piece originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on Thursday, March 14, 2013.