Fellow Gotham Urbanites, The New Amsterdam Market Has Ended

Hey guys,
For my Gotham urbanites with a fondness for markets, I have some sad news to share.  The New Amsterdam Market has officially closed its doors--at the absolute least--on South Street.  In short, without a market, we won't be in the area selling our wares in the neighborhood.  Obviously, you can still buy our products on www.brooklynbutcherblocks.com and we'll ship it to you.  No problem.  You can also still pickup at our (wood)shop in Sunset Park (DNR Trains to 36th street).  The address is 67 34th st 11232.  Floor and unit number as well as hours are on the about page of our facebook page.  As an ode to the market, we're offering free shipping for the remainder of the Summer with the discount code "freeshipping."  
I'd like to share my personal and professional history with the New Amsterdam Market and Robert LaValva.  New Amsterdam Market was the environment that allowed me to propel Brooklyn Butcher Blocks in December of 2010.  I joined late in the game, but still loved the community and commerce for the 3 weeks I was there.  Robert LaValva was so committed to offering a spot to Brooklyn Butcher Blocks that I still can't believe his generosity today as he surely couldn't have made a profit* on my booth for my first few weekends there.  What's more is that I got to meet the illustrious Florence Fabricant in person.  For the few that don't know, Florence Fabricant is just... I don't even know how to describe how pivital and important her role is in the world of food.  When I first started and told my artist friends, "She's like the Roberta Smith... of food," and I think I would know say the inverse of Roberta Smith.  In short, the opportunity to meet Florence Fabricant in person?  Just unreal.  Impossible!  But it happened.  She listened with open ears as I explained my craft and how Joel Bukiewicz and his company Cut Brooklyn guided me and how he was also growing.  A month later, and she wrote this piece about Joel and me in the New York Times.  This would not have happened without the New Amsterdam Market.  And I cannot explain to you how much this article launched Brooklyn Butcher Blocks into the next level.  What it did for someone with as much knowledge and experience as Florence Fabricant to back my craftsmanship (fun fact, she has also done some woodworking herself, if memory serves).  Robert LaValva and his hard work facilitated a place for me to grow and allowed me to follow my creative urges as a way to make a living (a dream of mine since I was 6).  And this was just my first month there.  Like first month ever.  Quick side note: for those of us who don't have trust funds, copious amounts of money or other monetary resources, it is people like Robert and their generosity who don't just help but *allow* businesses like mine to start with an advantageous position.

In 2011, The New Amsterdam Market was as important to my business as ever, and Robert was still as generous as ever.  In 2011, I feel fairly certain that our feature in Bon Appetit would not have happened, and it is precisely because of the values of the New Amsterdam Market that we stood out.  Our board was the *only* handmade board out of the bunch.  There was an individuals name actually associated with the product, and people responded to that.  The market also introduced me to a wide array of people of various crafts, and I learned a lot.  These relationships weren't just professional, but also personal.  Robert's enterprise built a true community, and while that's our natural inclination as humans to do so, Robert had the vision to bring like-minded people together.  Commerce becomes community and community commerce.  I noticed early on Robert's keen eye for aesthetics and form in constructing his market and I can say that the market did reach this goal for creating a community at the Seaport, an area becoming increasingly the land of tourists.*  

In 2012, I had broken my foot while woodworking and my mobility was extremely limited.  Robert LaValva had a project involving the creation of 60 new market tables and he pretty much came to my doorstep to discuss his plans.  We discussed this multiple times throughout 2012 and 2013.  Unfortunately, this never took off due to the same issues the market just finished facing.  Regardless, Robert kept me in mind and was providing me with more opportunities.
So, here is to the New Amsterdam Market in the Seaport and here's one more to Robert LaValva.
Now that my story is over, I have to say that it is unexpected this year I will be attending more markets outside of New York than in.  With that said, Chicago look for us at the Renegade Craft Fair and either the Ultimate Women's Expo OR the Randolph Street Market... Plans are still in flux.  Also, Los Angeles you can expect to see us at Artisanal LA again this October and we're hoping to rope in another event while we stay the week in LA.  If any Southern Californian locals have suggestions, please let me know.

-Nils Wessell

*Okay, okay, technically the New Amsterdam Market was a nonprofit but you know what I mean wiseguy!
*And no hate on the tourists!  We love ya and you're a part of our New York world too!  It's just that, naturally, as a place caters to tourists it generally seems to cater less to the people living there and the New Amsterdam Market was a place for both camps, IMO.
July 15, 2014

How to care for your boards? A few tips!

The TL;DR version is: We recommend picking up some mineral oil and or bees wax

But for those interested in a little bit more information... 

So, if you've ordered from me, then you know that each piece comes with a care card that details how to maintain your coveted piece.  I've included that text below and will expand upon it later with some anecdotes.



Coat with mineral oil once every couple weeks, or as much as needed.

For a more resilient finish, apply beeswax/mineral oil mix with a soft cloth.  Wipe off excess.


Dampen a wiping rag with 1:1 ratio of water and white vinegar.  Dry immediately with clean rag.  

Use of bleach is not recommended.


Stabilize the board by placing it on top of a dish towel before cutting.


Wash with sponge or rag, dish soap and warm water.


Don’t ever put this board in your dishwasher.  

Avoid using a scrubby pad and never use a steel brush; sponges and wiping rags are best.  

Avoid using a serrated edge on the board as it is particularly harsh on the board’s surface.


Those of us dealing with food safe wood products tend to encourage our customers to apply mineral oil frequently.  We do this for a few reasons: (1) mineral oil does evaporate unlike a finish such as varnish (2) you can't really oil it too much, so whynot make sure it's kept treated? (3) if there is an issue, such as a split, we know that the board was kept stabilized if it was treated so it helps us determine what may have happened.  


While we're talking finishes

, don't do vegetale oil or olive oil or canola oil (etc).  These spoil.  Some people request tung oil, which I'm happy to do upon request, but I'll tell you why I don't use it as my go-to.  I am not a fan of tung oil primarily because it is a finish that will show a knife mark a little bit more.  In my opinion, the awesome thing about mineral oil is how it can permeate into a board, making the finish and the wood one and the same.  Tung oil on the other hand, dries hard and sits on the surface as opposed to richly soaking into the wood.  Perhaps this is just a finicky preference, but it's mine so I use it as my standard.  One more thing about treating your board with mineral oil: let the oil sit on the surface for 15 minutes or so to let it soak in and make sure you do *every* *single* side.  Top, bottom, front, back, left, right.  Wipe off any residual oil.  I'd recommend using a paper towel so you can just toss it afterwards.  You won't really want to use a cloth soaked in mineral oil until after it goes through the wash.  If you then feel like applying Bees Buffer, use something soft like a t-shirt cloth to buff the wax into the board.  We offer both oil and Bees Buffer on our Store Page.



I encourage the use of Bees Buffer because it does make the board extra water resistant and it adds a nice luster the surface.  So in short, mineral oil is required and wax is greatly recommended.





I don't recommend bleach for cleaning because... well it's bleach and if vinegar can do the job, why use bleach?  Alternatively, you can leave salt on top of the board over night.  You're also welcome to use your dishsoap and water.  I tell people to dry the boards immediately because water is really a board's worst enemy.  They just don't mix, so I try to minimize an interaction between the two.



While we're talking about moisture, let's talk about storing your block.




A board is best left upright overnight.  You could leave it flat, but if it is resting on the counter day after day, moisture will inevitably build up and it will ruin your piece.  Just flip it up.  The 2" height is plenty to let it sit up.



I think at this point you've gotten the rule that boards and water don't mix, so obviously the dishwasher is the last place for your piece.  



Okay, but I bet the last two "DON'Ts" on the card are throwing you for a loop.  "No steel brushes?  No scrubby pads?  No serated edges?"  



Look, you can use all of those things and in retrospect, the "no scrubby pads" may have been a little bit of an overreaction, but a steel brush will mar the surface of your board and create unnecessary marks.  I've seen butchers use steel brushes to clean their blocks, come keep in mind they typically cut on a workhorse that's been used for 40 hours a week for decades.  Their surfaces are going to look worn after a week from so much use. I disuade people from using serated edges because, if you think about it, a serated edge isn't too unlike a saw and why would you want to take a saw to your cutting board?  Honestly, these two last ones are entirely your call, but the directions I give are intended to make your board to work well and look good.  That cover's that.





I've recommended a lot in this blogpost, but I still have to recommend that you stay tuned to the blog, facebook and especially twitter.  I know I've been kind of quiet (catching up on orders I got from the writeups on Gizmodo  and a few other blogs), but there's going to be lots of stuff to update you guys on.  First off, I'm moving.  I'll still be in Brooklyn, but I'm moving my shop from 

Gowanus down to Sunset Park.  Alas, I do love Gowanus, but it has become nigh impossible to find noise-friendly workspaces.  It is also difficult to find workspace below 2 bucks a square foot (per month).  I have worked in Gowanus since I first started working for Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn in September of 2009.  I moved my shop to Gowanus in August of 2010.  Meanwhile I moved from apartment to apartment until I found an opening in Gowanus in August of 2011.  I worked here and I wanted to live here so I could work here more.  My New York experience circled entirely around Gowanus.  So what I once considered my place of work will now exclusively be my living situation.  So, cheers to you Gowanus for being such a great place for me to work!  There's my ode to Gowanus.  That having been said, I'm eager for this move.  A bigger space with a big communal shop area will generate a lot more efficiency and more spare time to start making a few new things.




















If you follow me on twitter and facebook, you'll see photos of the new shop and its buildout!  The first thing we got to do is build a new wall, so expect to see some pictures of that this weekend.


Okay, I'm exhausted.





March 01, 2013

Brand New Site!

First, Hurricane Sandy.  Gowanus got lucky compared to the rest of Brooklyn, Manhattan, various parts of New Jersey and the Caribbean.  While my apartment stands and it has heat and electricity, and while my inventory remains undamaged, my shop is without power.  It looks as though the problem should be resolved by the end of the week, but the landlords have given no promises.  What does this mean for my customers?  If you've ordered one of my standard pieces, then the orders shouldn't be delayed that much because I have some stock left.  If you ordered a custom piece from me, there is more of a delay.  Your piece is probably glued up but still needs to be sanded and without electricity that is impossible.  In short, there is a delay.  My apologies, and I will try to get out everything as soon as possible.

Second, many thanks to Jenn from www.jennsager.com!  I'm just going to gush here for a second.  Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!  Do you believe this?  Do I even believe this?  Check this out!  I got a site!  With an online store!  I am sure it's more than evident that the last site was made by yours truly... turns out my aesthetic in woodworking does not translate well into the digital world.  

As you can see some serious changes have been made, all for the better.  The store is seriously awesome.  I can easily upload new products as I make them.  Time allowing, this means you will be seeing more one of a kind pieces, such as a table.  I'm very excited about this.  

Also, I can easily access and change, we also have new, beautiful, hi-resolution photos showing off my pieces.  You can more accurately see their color and grain, and as an appreciator of all things wood, this is of insurmountable importance to me.  Granted, each piece is a little bit different, but these new photos will definitely give you a good idea of what my work looks like.

The contact form has returned, and I'm going to try to figure out the mailing list in the ensuing months.  Don't worry, you aren't likely to be getting weekly updates from me via email.  I figure one email every 1-3 months.  If you want to know what's going on with the shop, I encourage you to follow me on twitter (@bkbutcherblocks) and facebook (www.facebook.com/brooklynbutcherblocks)

Oh, and how could I have forgotten: BLOG.  I'm going to write about a wide variety of subjects, ranging from new restaurants I'm trying out to articles about how to treat your board that include videos to what I'm working on most recently in the shop.  At some point, I'll also probably write about how much I love Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson on "Parks and Recreation" and is a woodworker himself.  

First blog post complete!


November 01, 2012

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