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Our Process 2017-11-15T04:10:06+00:00

THE SCIENCE BEHIND COPPER POT CONSTRUCTION

There is a ton of science that goes into making pure, healthy and original American-made copper cookware. But in keeping from getting too particular about electrons, crystal structure and coefficients of thermal expansion, I’ll lay down the basics of what goes into making copper pots for your kitchen happiness.

We start with sheets of pure copper, which, for you metalheads out there, is a phosphorous deoxidized grade (so it tins best) that is then cut using water pressure into discs by our awesome fabricators at Ohio Metal (because I don’t have money for a huge CNC machine in my garage!).

The discs are then placed on CNC machines, where they are hand-operated to spin to the House Copper specifics we designed. Copper hardens/anneals as it is drawn up, so the operator has to have a feel for the metal, and know if it’s going to be drawn too quickly and the pot would collapse, or if the machine is spinning too slowly, and the copper hardens too soon and cracks as it finishes.

Once the copper body components are done, we use our handy rivet gun and cold forged copper rivets, sourced from Wisconsin, to attach the iron handles (for a process on how the handles are made, you can revisit the cast iron process as it’s the same except we use ductile iron for the copper!). From there, we hand wipe the insides of the pot with tin, cleans them up and send them to you!

COPPER POTS

FOR KITCHEN HAPPINESS.

SEASONING CAST IRON SKILLETS OVER OPEN FIRE

I don’t believe in spraying some chemicals on skillets to make them look black, and definitely want to stay transparent about what I’m putting on these. The iron is pure, safe, and natural and seasoned with organic flaxseed.

But how does it get from the foundry to you? We have about 30 days to handle the raw, silver skillets before the microscopic water on them starts to turn into rust spots, which will blossom and grow.

The first step is to get some fires going, which we need at 250 – 300 degrees.   Then we can place skillets over the flame. The skillets themselves need to heat past 250 degrees, which insures that all the invisible water droplets have “boiled” off and the skillet is now dry. To lock in that dryness, we put a light coat of organic flaxseed oil (from North Dakota) on the entire skillet.  Now I can wait a while to fully season them, if I wish.

The raw-oiled ones are perfect for cast iron gurus who want to season a skillet their own way (but maybe don’t always like having to strip something down first).  But…a lot of people want a fully seasoned skillet. So, we rev that fire up to 500 – 700 degrees and start heating them, pulling them off, doing another coat of the flaxseed oil, and re-heating until those skillets have 6 – 8 coats of organic flaxseed oil on them and have turned a lovely shiny black. That flaxseed polymerizes beautifully with the heat and leaves you with a skillet that looks as though it’s been used a long time.

It’s as pure as it gets. Plain old iron and a bit of oil and fire. I’m starting to realize a lot of what we do has to use fire. Clay…iron…even the copper needs some heat. Well, fire was early man’s best friend, so I suppose doing authentic kitchenware would need a lot of fire…

OPEN FLAME SEASONING

TRADITION REVISITED.

MAKING REAL CLAY COOKWARE/BAKEWARE

When I set out to create genuine American cookware that resembled the thick, hearty clay pieces from the late 1800’s, I purposefully wanted to work with small artisans and with real potters.  I had no intention of making another round of slip-cast, machine made clay pieces. They’re cold, obviously mass-produced, and do nothing for the small artisans living out an authentic trade.

So, I set out to find local potters who would be willing to partner with Housekeeper Crockery and who would use all kinds of natural, organic materials to create the pieces. I knew this meant that each piece would be slightly different, that sometimes the glazes and colors might smudge or run, that there’d be obvious hand-made production to this.

I work currently with Rowe Pottery out of Cambridge, WI. This is marvelous for many reasons:

  1. It’s another woman-owned business
  2. They have four on-site potters who each stamp the pieces, so we can all see who made it. I love transparency and giving credit where it’s due!
  3. They are nearby, so transportation costs and gas emissions are low to get the items to and from each other
  4. They use clay that is custom mixed in Wisconsin – and the ingredients all come from the United States
  5. Their glazes come from Wisconsin too
  6. They’ve been around for 40 years – so they know what they’re doing

To get a clay piece, we start with a recipe for clay, which means it needs to be mixed to Rowe’s specifications. The ingredients for this “clay” recipe are brought from all over the United States, and then checked and combined in Wisconsin. Once mixed, it is sent to the potters, who then create the bowls and crocks for Housekeeper Crockery by turning clay on a wheel and hand creating each bowl. The pieces are dried, fired, painted, glazed and re-fired to create the finished pieces.

We fire each piece at 2200 degrees for 12 hours in and incredibly eco-cognizant process. Once they’re set out, they get inspected by both the potters and by me, and if they fit the look we’re going for, we send them out to you!

We make clay kitchenware with real clay. We make it the old way, the real way, the way that has been made for thousands of years – with hands, heat and love.

CLAY KITCHENWARE

MADE THE REAL WAY

HOW CAST IRON IS MADE, FROM SCRATCH

First of all, a great video of how our skillets are made can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFTdMeJ0aaU  Done by the divine David Schulta Videography, I particularly like the bad ass music. But, in all fairness, I should discuss what we are making and why.

Back in the 1800’s (and earlier), all cast iron was made with grey iron. Ductile iron wasn’t around until about the 1950’s and the additional grades and cast steel wasn’t available either. Your prized Griswolds? Made of grey iron. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy, just a bunch of iron melted together at a forge and poured into a mold.

Our skillets (and copper pot handles) are sketched by me, then translated in to a CAD design by an amazing product designer, who knows how to take my measurements and sketches and make them into 3-D. We send off for plastic prototypes, make tweaks, and make more prototypes.  From there, the tool & die maker takes the final CAD and creates the pattern.   Foundries each use a specific type of processing machine, so the pattern-maker needs to create the product mold on the appropriate sized and fitted aluminum plate. The pattern has “gating” which is where the metal is poured and “blown” in.

Our skillets are made of pig, rail and recycled iron. This is melted together in gigantic furnaces during the ‘charge’ at 2800 degrees before being tapped out, the impurities removed, and transferred to the guy doing the pouring on a B&P automatic processing machine.  Two people are needed to hand set the patterns in and hand-pour the skillets, but the machine itself cuts down the labor. The original pouring process used to take anywhere from 4 to 6 people or more.

By the time the cooling metal makes its way off the belt, the pieces fall out of the burnt sand (this is what makes a few inches of black dust along a foundry floor) and are pulled out. After they’re cooled, usually overnight, the gating can be broken off and ground down before being put in a wheelabrator. Pieces are inspected, refinished if needed, and then packaged off to me.

CAST IRON

STRENGTH FROM SCRATCH

HOUSEKEEPER CROCKERY KITCHENWARE

EACH PIECE WILL BRING YOU A LITTLE BIT OF PLEASURE AS YOU USE IT AND MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE HOLDING A SLICE OF HISTORY.

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