Richmonders like to make stuff. Sometimes it’s with a hammer and anvil. And other times it’s with a paintbrush and canvas. We are a community that values craftsmanship and things built to last. At our core, we are all making something. It’s what defines us. It’s what moves us forward.
It’s with this spirit in mind that Richmond Grid has launched Grid Supply Co., an online maker shop that brings to life the maker stories that we tell in the magazine.
Makers have always fascinated Richmond Grid. The stories in the publication are often about people who roll up their sleeves and create things. The magazine, like its maker shop, celebrates a time when making things by hand was the norm and served as an important part of our economy.
While Richmond has its share of individual talent, it’s the way local makers co-create that makes the region different. Through its magazine and shop, Grid wants to prove that the RVA community shines best when we take collective action, when we remix others’ creations, and when we participate in collaborative projects. Ultimately, it’s the way we move beyond an individual project in favor of co-creating around a shared purpose that really defines Richmond.
With the launch of Grid Supply Co., the magazine will extend its writing and coverage to include tangible products made with its story subjects. It’s Grid’s way of extending long-form journalism, an experiment of sorts designed to move the reader beyond passively consuming an article by offering an opportunity to truly interact with the publication’s content.
Blending the old with the new, Grid has partnered with Richmonders carrying on the tradition of heritage crafts and traditional skills, which were once passed from one generation to the next. Each partner, who has served as a story subject in the magazine in the past, has collaborated with Grid Supply Co. to launch the new maker shop.
A few of the items released in the first phase of this community-driven retail experiment include:
Bourbon Barrel Oyster Knives
In 1754 Ben Franklin published his original Join, or Die woodcut in the Pennsylvania Gazette.
When craftsman Brent Stubblefield launched his handmade knife business in Richmond several years ago, he named his company Join or Die. It was Stubblefield’s nod to history, faith, and community. His goal is to bring back traditional skill, lore, and craft as the foundation for a new economy.
After writing about Stubblefield’s knives, Grid decided to work with him to design a knife that represented the interest of its readers. An oyster knife was the obvious choice. But not just any oyster knife, one made from white oak, bourbon barrel staves from Richmond-based Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. Stubblefield hand-selected the wood because the inside of each bourbon barrel, which is charred to give the drink its signature flavor, was the perfect texture and aesthetic for the knife’s handle. Each knife, with its distinctive handle that has been soaked in bourbon and beer, is finished off with a brass guard and mosaic pins.
In addition to Grid Supply’s bourbon barrel oyster knives, the publication has partnered with Stubblefield on a second knife made from a 100-year-old Virginia tobacco barn. The reclaimed red oak handle is stained with leather dye to bring out the grain character.
And to make sure the oyster knives work just right, Grid Supply sought out the advice of Chef Dylan Fultineer of Rappahannock Restaurant and Rapp Session. Fultineer, who test drove the knife in the kitchen, provided expert feedback on how to tweak the design for the best experience.
Both the bourbon barrel and tobacco barn oyster knives are handmade in limited batches and available at Grid Supply Co.
Sidearm Flask with City of Richmond Flag
Jordan Childs has always loved the growler culture. Filling them up, scraping the foam off the top, and now — making them. Childs is the owner of Richmond-based Shine Craft Vessel Company, the celebrated makers of stainless steel growlers along with other rare and meaningful goods.
“Why can’t something that is so functional have some beauty to it,” explains Childs about his insistence on high standards and minimal waste. Proud of what he has created, Childs is quick to describe the process and eager to share how each growler is cut from 23-gauge, 304-grade stainless steel. From there, the metal is spun and polished by hand to achieve a unique shape. Once the shaping is completed, the growlers are then color-coated using a non-toxic powder mixture and baked at 400 degrees for half an hour. Each growler is cleaned and passivated by hand, which results in a 100 percent toxin-, BPA-, phthalate- and PVC-free interior lining that never has a metallic aftertaste.
Earlier this year, Childs expanded his line to include circular, sidearm flasks. Grid worked closely with Childs to create a signature line of flasks featuring the City of Richmond flag. Designed to hold 5 ounces of your favorite beverage, each flask boasts the City flag adopted in 1993. The flag features a graphic representation of The Headman, a 14-foot-tall bronze boatman and batteau statue by Paul DiPasquale to commemorate the African American contribution to Richmond’s waterways.
The Grid flask is available for purchase in limited quantities at Grid Supply Co.
Matt Johnson is a classic storyteller. His stories are straightforward, honest, and real.
In his book American Hearts, Johnson delivers 50 nonfiction stories on American life, work, dreams, and death. He manages to give readers a taste of the intangible thing that burns inside so many.
“This book is about America. Not the government, policy, or politics, but the people. It’s about the people that made this country the most creative, tragic, and inspiring in history. These are their stories. These are American hearts,” says Johnson.
Grid has partnered with Johnson to offer signed copies of American Hearts, boasting a cover designed by Richmond artist Ross Trimmer, in Grid Supply Co.