Working his way through graduate school at a tool and die shop in eastern Illinois, Frankie Flood put together lighting fixtures on an assembly line. In the toil and grind, he met master machinists – wizards, really – “who could do things with the machines that I will never be able to,” he says.
|Photo by Kat Schleicher
“I would ask them, ‘What do you make when you go home?’ And they’d say, ‘Nothing.’” What a disappointment to the inquisitive student. To him, even simple objects “could have life and make me wonder, ‘Who made it? Who cranked the dials?’”
Collectors are now wondering that about the UW-Milwaukee associate art professor’s intricately designed pizza cutters, which are patterned after “chopper” motorcycles, all curves and outlaw power. The sleek slicers are sought by knife collectors, chopper enthusiasts and chefs, who pay anywhere from $900 to $1,500 for one of his designs.
Flood made his first one to fulfill his 2004 master’s degree thesis and to prove that a common item could be made with style. “What happened to the time when tools had design?” he asked himself.
In crafting his first stylish pizza cutters, he remade a tool that, in his opinion, was never properly designed. “I decided to take an everyday object and show there could be a market for one with good design,” he says.
There was. He’s made about 25 more cutters “on and off,” he says. And earlier this year, he was constructing one for celebrity chef Michael Isabella, a Washington, D.C., restaurateur and former contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef.” Isabella’s right forearm even features a tattoo of a Flood-style pizza cutter. He got the ink in honor of his first restaurant, Graffiato. “It’s an Italian-inspired place, and we make pizza,” he says. “So I wanted to get a tattoo of a
badass pizza cutter.”