Ian LaPlume turns old pans into spatulas
CHARLESTOWN – Charlestown resident and Military Police officer Ian LaPlume was stationed overseas in Jordan when Covid befell the world. Rather than dwell on the negative aspects the epidemic brought forth, LaPlume decided to put himself in a hopeful state of mind.
“During that downtime, I was able to think about what I wanted to do when I got back home,” he said recently. “I wanted to start digging into more hobbies and I’ve always liked blacksmithing.”
LaPlume was back on Rhode Island shores by November of 2020 and began putting those hopeful plans into action, creating what he calls “not the usual type of trinket.”
With his grinders, sanders and some free time, LaPlume figured out a way to give old cast iron frying pans a new life. “This is about re-purposing,” he said. “I’m not looking to destroy anything. Sometimes you need to ask how you can re-utilize an item.”
Traveling around to scrapyards and asking friends and family members if they had any cast iron pans which were chipped or otherwise unusable, he collected his materials and set to work.
“I use a regular grinder,” he said. “I tried other techniques to cut the pans but when you cut cast iron its structure changes. Unwanted vibrations can snap the pan.” After cutting out the portion he is going to use, LaPlume hand files the edges to create the uniform shape of a quality spatula.
“I made my first one and it got some popularity,” he said. “Unlike your everyday spatulas, these don’t bend. How you see it now is how it will always be. The idea here is to have something you won’t have to replace. Just care for it the same as if it was a cast iron pan.”
Each spatula LaPlume has created since that time is entirely unique. “Every pan has different qualities which give an estimate of what the spatula is going to be,” he said, explaining that while it would be easier for him to simply go and buy new cast iron for his projects, it wouldn’t hold the same meaning. “If I was using new pans, that would be like taking the life away that they could have had. This way you’ve taken something that’s collecting dust and given it a new life.”
Customers who supply their own pan will receive a cut, cleaned and seasoned spatula for between $45 and $55. Those who must have a pan sourced for them will pay between $80 and $95.
If you would like to place an order for a one-of-a-kind, handmade, cast iron spatula contact LaPlume on Facebook at 401 Cast, or on Instagram at @401_ Cast.