Local Spotlight: Toronto’s Herriott Grace
A father and daughter handcraft wooden homeware from ethically sourced materials.
Herriot Grace all started with a few hand-carved wooden spoons. Like any dad, Nikole Herriott’s father, Lance, who lives on a farm in Victoria, British Columbia, was sending his daughter packages across the country to her home in Toronto. Sometimes they were accompanied by a spoon he’d carved himself—a special handmade gift. Nikole, who was a graduate student at the time, amassed a handful and realised she could turn her father’s deep love of woodworking into a small business of handcrafted wooden homeware.
“He has this admiration for wood,” she notes. “He’s been collecting wood since the early ’70s. He’ll talk about trees and how they live and their value. He just really respects trees.” That respect is evident just a few minutes into the documentary Nikole created about her father and their unique business, launched four years ago and named Herriott Grace after their family name.
These days, Lance takes his time crafting bowls, spoons, rolling pins and cheeseboards from salvaged and reclaimed black walnut, eucalyptus, maple or yew. He ships the finished pieces to Nikole, a trained pastry cook, who styles and photographs the items and adds them to website inventory. “Sometimes he’ll get on a kick and all I’ll have is bowls,” she laughs. But in Nikole’s case, the soulful quality and uniqueness of each piece—much of it dictated by the wood itself—has been a major draw, especially in an age of mass-produced goods. “They feel different in your hand,” she says. “They feel different because of the pride and thought and design that goes into them.”
Given that all of the wooden pieces are hand-carved or hand-turned, keeping up with demand can be challenging. So Nikole rounds out the selection of wooden objects with other pieces, sourced by her or made in collaboration with other artisans, such as a porcelain cake pedestal made by a Montreal-based ceramic atelier; kitchen linens by an Arizona artist; and our favourite: a cloud-shaped cookie cutter by a Toronto tinsmith that’s topped with a handmade wooden knob from Lance.