Nils Wessel is a natural born “maker.” His whole life he has been hit with sparks of creativity, forged them into cohesive designs, and then hammered out their details.
What he’s made through the years has varied a lot. During his childhood, you might have seen him making replicas of the dragon in Ruth Stiles Garrett’s My Father’s Dragon series. As the years went by, this evolved into a desire to make art. He was highly influenced by his summers in Vermont, where he’d spend his days with his uncle and grandfather – two woodworkers and serious DIY project addicts. They introduced him to the basics of construction. With their hard work, the three men transformed a barely inhabitable summer cottage into a compound complete with a barn, a pond, an in-ground pool and two three-bay garages. Nils then took this knowledge with him to Bard College, where he majored in Studio Arts and tested his then-rudimentary construction skills by making large-scale sculptures and architectural installations.
Fast forward to Brooklyn where Nils finagled his way into a job, working for Joel Bukiewicz at Cut Brooklyn. While apprenticing there, Nils began making tangs – the part of the knife that eventually becomes the handle. He was still pursuing—and making--art in his spare time, but the frustrations of working a five foot ten inch basement studio (for the record, that’s his height, so it must have very uncomfortable) started to overwhelm Nils.
After a serious reality check, he re-evaluated his life and realized that it was high time to try something new. His experience with wood in Vermont and at Bard, plus Joel’s influence as a craftsperson inspired him to turn his low ceilinged art studio into a low ceilinged wood-shop. Spending every free hour hunched over experiments, research and anything else he could get his hands on, Nils taught himself woodworking. Then, he heard about the value of cutting boards. While Nils was intrigued with the ways he was able to treat, design and manipulate wood into something both beautiful and useful, cutting boards were also a great fit because it gave him an entrance into the growing community of artisans.
Enter Brooklyn Butcher Blocks. Nils began attending markets with his blocks and, as orders kept coming in and the buzz about the products grew, he decided to strike out on his own. Since then, he’s been fortunate enough to have appeared in the New York Times, Tasting Table, Bon Appetit, New York Magazine and to have been recommended by Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods.
So far, it’s been an interesting ride, and Nils is excited about what’s to come. And even though his toys and tools have improved, in many ways, he’s still that kid drawing and hammering... excited to keep working.
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