Chelsea Miller came to New York City from Vermont with the idea of becoming an actress. But she’s now most famous for being a knife maker and the skills she brought with her from the Green Mountain State.
The actress is the owner of Chelsea Miller Knives, where she makes custom knives from her home base in Brooklyn.
The business has had such success that she told CNN when people ask her what she does for a living, “I tell them I’m a knife maker.”
Her journey from a Vermont farm girl to Brooklyn knife maker began with her father.
Family Roots Of A Knife Maker
In the interview with CNN, Miller said she grew up on a Vermont farm, where she learned how to work with tools from her father, a blacksmith and a carpenter.
“It was kind of child labor, mostly,” she said, laughing. “He got a lot of free labor out of me. So I had to make it worth my while.”
The actress learned knife making skills. Now, she puts tools from the farm to use in her business.
Miller makes her blades using long metal files made from old horseshoe rasps. On many of her knives, the flat of the blade contains the crosshatched, triangular teeth that originally were used for filing horses’ hoofs.
She repurposes those teeth for use in grating cheese, nuts, ginger or whatever else a person needs to grate in the kitchen. Also, wood from the family farm is used for making the knife handles.
Miller started trying to sell her knives at flea markets, where she said on some days she would sell nothing. But as word spread about her knives, she built a website and business has boomed. The wait time for some types of a Chelsea Miller knife is now seven months.
The actress makes about six knives a week. The cost ranges from $200 to $800 each. She said handcrafted knives offer people an opportunity to appreciate the time and commitment that went into making an item.
“It’s really an opportunity to slow down and understand the time and the work and the craftsmanship that goes into handmade things, and that really connects you much more to the things that you buy and the things that own,” she said.
The kitchen knives made by Miller have the teeth intact. Because the blades are made from non-stainless steel, owners must take great care in keeping the knives dry after use.
The knife maker also creates smaller cheese knives that come with either a pointed or rounded blade. She also makes microplane cheese knives that are smooth on one side and grated on the other. They also are made from high carbon steel that was formerly a horse rasp, as well as a walnut handle from her childhood farm.
Her other items include a rustic grader, also made from a rasp and wood from the family farm, and a cheese pick designed for use with hard cheese.
The actress said she takes time to bring a unique approach to her knives.
“My process,” she writes on her website, “is focused on exploration, imperfection and the desire to make things more beautiful than they have to be.”