Jake's Clay Art
Ceramic Colander, Waynesboro
“My colander takes a daily object and makes it special, so it becomes part of the personality of your kitchen,” says 37-year-old potter Jake Johnson. “The shape is really fluid, the way the edges sort of sweep in and the handles flow out, and animated with a gestural quality evocative of human and animal forms.”
Each piece is handmade in five stages. First, it is thrown on the potter’s wheel and then, after drying, the bottom is trimmed and the feet are carved. Next, Johnson makes and attaches the rounded handles, which are specifically designed to be comfortable to hold, and carefully drills the holes using several sizes of drill bits to create a random pattern he hopes will appear “almost as if they formed that way on their own.” The final stages are glazing and firing—most of Johnson’s colanders are finished in soft satin or matte glazes, though he does do some in more glossy greens and blues.
“Even though it’s a static object, when it’s finished it retains something of that movement and energy from the making process,” says Johnson, who earned an MFA in ceramics from Penn State University.
Dishwasher and microwave safe, Johnson’s colander is a kitchen workhorse that very pleasantly blurs the line between art and utility. Because the every day should be beautiful. $90. JakesClayArt.com
Copper Cookware, Charlottesville
You might say that Corry Blanc jumped out of the frying pan … and into another frying pan. While starting his own metalworking business, Blanc Creatives, in 2008, the 33-year old worked in a variety of Charlottesville restaurants to help make ends meet. So when he created the first set of his company’s hallmark carbon steel cookware in 2014, he passed them out to chefs he knew around town, like Tomas Rahal of Mas Tapas, to test in their kitchens. Soon Blanc was turning out cookware non-stop for area chefs, his popularity based entirely on industry word of mouth. In 2015, the company saw demand skyrocket, and added a new line of copper cookware last fall. All the pans are handmade by 12 employees in the company’s workshop in Charlottesville’s trendy Belmont neighborhood. Each pan has a hand-wiped tin coating, along with copper’s traditional red-gold luster and properties of heat conduction. “I like traditional French cooking, that elegance and refinement, and copper is perfect for that,” says Blanc. “Copper is a natural evolution for us.” 9- and 11-inch copper pans start at $625. BlancCreatives.com
Jaeger & Ernst
The New American Chair, Barboursville
Jaeger & Ernst call themselves cabinetmakers—not because they create gleaming custom wood cabinetry (although they do), but because they follow in the footsteps of the traditional 18th-century craftsmen who both designed and built almost any decorative item that could be made from wood. “We want to define ourselves that way—as both designer and maker,” says co-owner Walter Jaeger. The company’s New American Chair, created in 2015, epitomizes this spirit, fusing modern and traditional aesthetics into a single piece. “We were looking for a concept that would be both contemporary and traditional, and make a bow to the arts and crafts movement,” explains Jaeger. Made from either cherry, walnut or koa wood (the company also offers an upholstered version), the chair’s most striking feature is its floatingseat, which curves slightly upward and appears to hover above the legs when viewed from the front. Arched slats cut from thin laminated wood strips give the chair’s back the springiness of a much softer material, flexing and stretching with the sitter’s back. The result is a form that harks back to the solid designs of traditional woodworking, but still feels dynamic and airy. Prices start at $1,000. JaegerAndErnst.com
See all of our Made in Virginia 2016 Award winners!
Andrea Donnelly Studio, Richmond
Loopy Scoops, Haymarket (category winner)
JM Stock Provisions, Charlottesville and Richmond
Ula Tortilla, Afton
Virginia Chutney, Flint Hill
Mother Shrub, Richmond (category winner)
Vitae Rum, Charlottesville
Big Fish Cider Co., Monterey
Copper Fox Distillery, Sperryville
Silver Tears Campers, Roanoke (category winner)
Tinkham Decoys & Folk Art, Norfolk
Join or Die Knives, Richmond
Winners were selected by the editors from among hundreds of submissions received earlier this year.
Click here to see 2015 winners.
Click here to see 2014 winners.
Click here to see 2013 winners.
Click here to see 2012 winners.