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Beehive

As far as claims to fame go, soldering the architectural metalwork at Bill Gates’ house is kind of left of centre.

Then again, falling in love with an orange enameled colander, sourcing tools from an antique broker and spending your days stretching liquid pewter into measuring spoons is hardly mainstream either.

Boston-based designers Jim Dowd and Sandra Bonazoli are the team behind Beehive: a small company working from a converted brick textile mill south of Boston creating functional kitchenware with a retro bent. (Think Little House on the Prarie-style measuring cups adorned with new spring blossoms, perfect pewter baby feeding spoons, and a twisted lemon juicer that wouldn’t look out of place in Austin Powers’ top drawer.)

Jim and Sandra both trained as jewellers at the University of Massachusetts and worked as organic farmhands, caterers, art school caretakers and teachers respectively, before their love affair with pewter began.

“We love that pewter is a very traditional material. It has a nice warmth that other metals don’t have,” says Jim. They also love its feel (“it has a nice weight that feels good to hold”) its pliability (“with a little heat and the right amount of pressure it will move exactly where you want it to go”) and its versatility (“for me personally, wood as a material was too rigid and clay was too plastic. Metal was just right; the goldilocks syndrome.”)

It’s tempting to put pewtersmithing in the same category as cordwainery, glassblowing and millinery: romantic ancient crafts that are just about obsolete in the modern age and are becoming a lost art. But Jim is more pragmatic.

While he was schooled the conservative way, making things one at a time and using mostly hand tools and traditional methods, he believes that metalsmithing, and the crafts in general, have always been directly linked to technology.

“I think that it’s important for people to learn these [traditional] skills so they are not lost, but I also think that it’s essential for the growth and continuation of the field, and for crafts in general, that technologies like 3D printing become a part of studio practice,” he says.

While two local companies actually pour Beehive’s pewter, the design and construction of the rubber moulds, casting, polishing and packaging is all done in house.

Being avid food lovers (last weekend they celebrated spring with a pasta dish of broad beans, olives, tomatoes, mozzarella and rocket) and possibly the world’s biggest pewter fans, it’s no wonder that Beehive’s products all have a home in the kitchen.

“We believe that traditional craftsmanship can be employed in service of modern design, and that functional things can be beautiful too,” says Sandra. 

 We couldn’t agree more.

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Beehive spoons are available here.