Martin Reinhard is a master blacksmith based in Nanton. He won the artistic blacksmithing championship at the Calgary Stampede in 2001 and he appeared on season seven of Dragon’s Den for his wood splitting device, the Mr. Quick Split. (They loved it. Kevin O’Leary and Bruce Croxon are its investors.) He’s also the blacksmith of Willow Creek Forge, the Nanton-based studio and gallery that sells beautiful and functional carbon steel frying pans, among other hand-forged products.
Reinhard has been hand-forging frying pans for himself for years now, ever since he grew frustrated with having to buy new Teflon pans every year. He started to produce and sell the pans commercially a little under two years ago.
The frying pans come in a variety of sizes and variations and are 100 per cent Canadian. They are made from carbon steel sourced from steel suppliers in Calgary. Reinhard uses carbon steel because it is a better conductor of heat than cast iron, for example, meaning the pans have fast heat uptake and heat up evenly. It also means they’re crack-proof and lightweight.
No two pans are alike. On average, one frying pan takes Reinhard half a day to complete. Each frying pan has a hand-hammered base and the pans are entirely natural. Instead of Teflon, these pans have a natural nonstick surface that only improves with use.
The braided handles are hand-forged at 1,200C by Reinhard. The braiding means the handle doesn’t get hot – the loopholes allow air to travel through, keeping the handle cool. And, there’s a loop at the end of the handle so it can be hung up on a hook and proudly displayed when not in use.
The frying pans can be purchased from Willow Creek Forge or online at willowcreekforge.com. The pans range in price from $150 to $300. 2112 Main St., Nanton, 403-646-2244, willowcreekforge.com.