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Fiercely Curious is an online art & design collective based in Brooklyn.

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Chelsea Miller
Knives With History
About Chelsea Miller
There is nothing better than seeing a girl get down and dirty with some heavy duty machinery. This sweetest lass is quite comfortable with heat (over 1,000 degrees of heat to be precise) as she was raised by a blacksmith and carpenter in Vermont spending her childhood helping her dad in the shop.

Now, on every trip to Vermont, Chelsea bring a bit of home back to Brooklyn with her (and straight to her shop). While in Vermont, she'll gather horse shoe rasps and spalts her own wood- digging holes (see? down and dirty!) often times burying her own... read more
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Work by Chelsea Miller

In conversation with Chelsea Miller

Erin: What are you curious about?

Chelsea: I am curious about how different people experience the world and how that influences what they make and what they desire.


Erin: Describe your work and describe your process.

Chelsea: My work is currently focused on kitchen knives which are made from recycled materials. I turn old tools into knives. I use farrier's horse shoe rasps which are a high carbon steel, as a knife material they are multifunctional, slicing and dicing  and grating.

My process starts with imagery, I design the things I want to see and hold. I spend a lot of time looking at rusty piles of metal and imagining the elegant details hidden within.

Erin: You have a background in acting and a documentary film is coming down the pipeline. Tell us about it.

Chelsea: My friend Andrew from Airfield films and I have been making short films for a number of years and as my friend he has taken an interest in my unusual upbringing and wanted to share the story. I've been acting since I was a child and have always been interested in storytelling.


Erin: Your father was a blacksmith and carpenter. Did you play with knives, forgers, tools, as a kid?

Chelsea: My father is a blacksmith and a carpenter and as a child I spent a lot of time as his apprentice, or unpaid help really. we'd build things like tree houses, and jewelry boxes and forge hooks and hinges.  


Erin: You are renowned for your knives made of horse shoe rasps (giant files used on horses hooves for those of us who don’t know). What was the motive behind your selection of this material in forging your blades?

Chelsea: I began playing with steel a few years ago, we had draft horses growing up, my dad logged all the wood and built our house using draft horses. We had a lot of horse shoe rasps lying around when I began. Not anymore sadly, I've completely wiped out the north east kingdom of vermont. haha.

When I began to pay attention to the texture on these files, I became aware of the possibilities and how to incorporate the original functionality while giving the material new life.  

Erin: How many knives did you make until you made one to your liking?

Chelsea: My very first knife is one of my favorites. It’s hard for me to look at in now and not want to change it but I also wish I could bring more of that beginners eye to the pieces in today’s production. The key these days is not to get too caught up in the production and allow myself the creative space to design.


Erin: How much time goes into each and every knife today?

Chelsea: I usually work in batches of 6-8 knives. They’ll take me about a week, and I spend a lot of intimate time shaping their personalities. I currently have a 3 month waiting list.


Erin: I was fascinated by your explanation of spalted wood being like cheese in our studio visit. We love both, so tell us about what goes into the making of you’re beautiful wooden handles.

Chelsea: I collect the wood for my handles in Vermont where I grew up. the spalting process is like cheese making. A certain amount of moisture will seep into the grain of the wood and start to travel and rot in thin winding lines , like mold inside a cheese. The key is to find this wood before it becomes too rotten. I've started spalting my own maple by leaving logs in water, under the snow or even in the compost pile.


Erin: If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would it look like?

Chelsea: I’d like to make some big land sculptures and mobiles with Alexander Calder. doesn’t the sound of knives dangling overhead sound appealing?


Erin: Clearly we can see how your Vermont upbringing has played a role in your life. What has Brooklyn done for you and is there a sweet spot between the two that’s created who you are today?

Chelsea: who I am today is influenced by my time in  Vermont as much as my time in NY. I'm very aware of balance in my life, dirty clean, fast slow, big small... I enjoy the opportunity to be any kind of person in NY, I enjoy eating oysters and sipping champagne just as much as lying on the ground under a tractor changing oil. I'm never bored.


Erin: Your studio is located amongst other talented artisan’s spaces. How do they inspire and help you? Do collaborations come from close proximity? Does everyone just want to play with your knives?? I would.

Chelsea: It’s been great working in Brooklyn since I am surrounded by talented business owners, woodworkers, motorcyclists, restaurant owners, ceramicists, clothing designers, they all have something in common which is the courage to live life in their own way. I'm surrounded by integrity and can share appreciation for everyones process without a sense of competition.


Erin: What’s next?

Chelsea: I’m living the life I want by seeking inspiration to feed my work. constantly questioning the world and seeking new perspectives. I love to be surprised. I love a challenge. I like the feeling of doing something for the first time. realizing that the more I know the less I understand is something that inspires me to go on growing forever.


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