The Smiths: Old Tableware Gets A Makeover At Brooklyn Metal Works

The Barclays Center’s rusty exterior might’ve been controversial, but more exciting metalwork can be found two blocks east on Dean Street at Brooklyn Metal Works.

The Barclays Center’s rusty exterior might’ve been controversial, but more exciting metalwork can be found two blocks east on Dean Street at Brooklyn Metal Works. That’s where Erin Shay Daily and Brian Weissman — who met 11 years ago in the metal MFA program at SUNY–New Paltz — design tableware at decidedly different ends of the dining spectrum.

Daily makes luminous silver serving ware that is both beautiful and functional, like a spatula with Art Deco slats, spoons with handles shaped like rustic feathers or twigs and a shovel-shape set of salad tongs that invert and link together to form a funky square.

Weissman, who’s kept his day job as the technician for the jewelry design department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, takes nearly the opposite approach. He begins with unloved or unused sterling silver — the dented teapots, lone forks or imperfect platters you see at Goodwill — and flattens them, melds them or breaks pieces apart with tiny, precise cuts or tears. The result is new life for old silver, reborn as metal art.

If the couple’s handiwork inspires you to pick up the blow-torch, you’re in luck. Their two-year-old Prospect Heights studio space, which follows a membership model and rents space or time at various price points, hopes to be as creative as the art it supports. Perched above a working tofu factory, it was founded to give city metal artists an affordable home base from which to solder safely, collaborate with others in the field or take intensive workshops.

Amateurs, meanwhile, can visit the rotating works in the gallery or take one of the many introductory classes — Daily teaches “Welcome to Goldsmithing” and “Jewelry Concept and Fabrication,” for example  — held several times a month. Just sign up soon if it’s silverware you aim to make, as Weissman’s “objects” class sells out fast.

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Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.