Now an accomplished furniture- and cabinet-maker who caters to such high-end clients as Steven Spielberg, Patterson has embraced the culinary world with a new project: handmade knives.
“The reason I started making knives,” Patterson says, “is because I needed a hobby that wasn’t woodworking and furniture-making.” In the demanding world of the Hamptons elite, Patterson craved the gratification of an art project that he could own. Or, as he puts it, “I just needed something to blow off steam, so I started making knives.”
Patterson’s chef’s and paring knives come in varying lengths and styles, though they are all made with a Japanese aesthetic in mind (and the German functionality in action, since blades are honed in the German style). Handles recall Japanese “Wa” handles, and stainless steel used to fashion the blade—it’s rustproof—is Damascus, which is a production method for steel. “They take different slabs of steel and—it’s called forge-welding—put 4 or 5 or 10 different layers together and put it in a forge and it gets really hot and welds together,” Patterson says. “I figured the best thing to do was to buy my Damascus from the best makers in the country.”
These days, Patterson has recruited knife maker and steel worker Devin Thomas for the Damascus work. Thomas has been making knives since the late 1970s and is considered an expert in the field.
Knife handles are made by Patterson, in a process that takes a few hours. Using exotic, American woods (maple burl, for instance), Patterson creates handles with nickel spacers that are the base for his artisan knives. Exotic woods “lend themselves to knives.” Sometimes, after the first few hours’ worth of work, these handles come apart, which means back to the drawing board. “I’ve been learning the hard way,” Patterson says. The remainder of the process takes five additional hours, from the heating of the steel to the gluing to the grinding, which Patterson does himself.
Although Dereyk Patterson has not officially “gone live” with his knives—they do not yet appear for sale on his website—he has commissioned business through social media, where he has posted photographs of his finished process. People from around the world have contacted him about his gorgeous pieces. “This little knife-making hobby may turn out to be a business,” he says.
Why have his knives initiated such a social media following? Patterson believes it’s about the commitment. “A $1,400 commitment [the high price for his knives] on a really cool piece of cutlery is a lot easier than a $15,000 commitment on a dining room table.” And he’s probably right. If custom furniture feels unattainable by most, custom cutlery—at least a piece or two here and there—may not.
“I’m doing knives that you’re going to use every day,” Patterson says, and although the prices may be a little more than everyday–$600 to $1,400 per knife—they are certainly pieces of art worth keeping around for at least as long as that dining room table. Is there a better gift for the culinary artist in your life than a very, very beautiful knife that will be a joy forever?
For a look at Dereyk Patterson’s knife collection, visit his Instagram, @dereykp. You can also reach him via email concerning for sale items and commissioned projects: [email protected].