Copper in the Arts

December 2014

Ecrandal Originals: Handmade Copper Cookie Cutters Designed to Last Forever

By Nancy Ballou

mustache copper cookie cutter Ecrandal mustache copper cookie cutter.

Jamie and Eric Border began the holiday season of 2001 out of work and in need of income. Luckily, the couple soon found their calling in copper cookie cutters.

"We used to be in remodeling but, after Sept. 11, our business took a huge hit and we were unable to secure enough jobs to pay our bills," Jamie reports. "Eric's first cookie cutter (Original Tree) was created basically from desperation. Inspired by Williams Sonoma's copper cutters, he literally sat down one evening with a strip of copper he had saved and hand formed a tree. I was amazed! Then he contacted a local sheet metal company that he had done some business with and showed them what he was doing. They immediately agreed to provide us with all their copper scraps at no charge until we got on our feet again! Eric produced three designs; Original Tree, Snowman and our large Gingerbread Man. We packaged the three together in a gift box, took pictures and informed our friends and family that we were selling them. We really didn't know this would become our business. It was intended to get us by until more work came along."

handprint cutterEcrandal keepsake handprint cutter.

Fast forward to today and the Borders now have a thriving business creating handcrafted heirloom copper cookie cutters that have become prized among their clients.

"We like copper because it is known for being durable and long lasting (basically forever). Most other materials will rust or deteriorate over time. Since we are creating artwork that is made to be passed down from generation to generation, we use only the best materials to insure that longevity. Also, we give a 100% guarantee on quality workmanship and performance for each of our cookie cutters. Though copper will tarnish, it can always be polished up and look like new again. The tarnish in no way compromises the functionality of the cutter. It will still make beautiful cookies," Jamie explains. To start out, the Borders began cold calling businesses, doing Farmer's Markets and craft shows.

According to Jamie, "It was hard work, yet did not produce the income we needed. Eric worked odd jobs he could find as often as possible and spent every spare moment investing time and energy into the cookie cutters. Wonderful feedback revealed that everyone loved them and they were the best quality cookie cutters ever seen.

Unfortunately, our sphere of exposure was too small to survive.” With no money to invest in advertising, they had to rely on word of mouth to grow their business.

holiday copper cookie cutterEcrandal holiday copper cookie cutter.

“It was agonizingly slow growing,” he recalls. “Wholesale prices did not provide enough income, and we almost gave up several times. After opening a website which was not doing particularly well at first, we decided to have a storewide sale on that website (20% off an entire purchase). I'll never forget checking our sales and watching the awesome response. We were getting orders from all over the world! We assumed it was a fluke, but it never stopped even after the sale ended. Eventually, professional decorators from the internet world, they called themselves The Cookie Queens, offered to get the word out on us and wanted to help move our clientele up. They told us ours were the most efficient cookie cutters they'd ever used. We were beyond excited. From then on, we were busy and increased our customer base daily. Finally, our dream of owning a business that our whole family could be part of and that we were proud to stand behind had come true. We called it ecrandal originals. The e is for Eric and Crandall is his middle name but we dropped an l."

Eric hand fashions each and every cutter by hand without use of any machinery. He cuts a strip of 16 oz. pure copper and folds a rolled hem at the top. This is easy on the hands and pleasing to the eyes. A sharp edge remains on the bottom for more precise cutting.

After forming, the piece is fastened by hand with solid copper rivets for permanent connection. It is then hand dressed, flattened and placed in a cellophane package. Both Eric and Jamie share ideas on new designs and improvements. Jamie does the packaging and talks to customers. They print all their own tags. Their six children offer suggestions, use the cutters to shape the dough and, of course, sample cookies. Each finely detailed piece is stamped ecrandal originals, is designed to last a lifetime and reflects a labor of love.

"Our Keepsake Hand cookie cutter is very popular and loved by all," says Jamie, "especially at Christmas and Mother's Day. Some people claim to have cried when they received them. First, an outline of the hand is traced, FAXed to us and Eric uses it as a template. Instructions on exactly how to do this are on our website. The child's first name and age are stamped on the wrist. The cutters are packaged with a tag that has our company name and the child's. They are fun to hang on Christmas trees, too. We've even made some, through special orders, for hands other than children's.

Ecrandal family pictureEric, Jamie and their family at Ecrandal Copper Cookie Cutters.

"We have had requests for practically everything, including creation of a pancreas shaped cutter for a customer whose daughter has diabetes. Every year on the anniversary date she was diagnosed, pancreas shaped cookies are baked." Eric is currently working on a set of states of the USA meant to interface with each other. They are proportionate so that tiny states are grouped with surrounding larger states. Jamie has several animal favorites and also likes the expectant mother holding an umbrella. She named the owls Hoot and Night and admits that naming the cutters is her favorite part of designing. Many of the dress cutters are named after family and friends. Even with more than 2,000 designs, they still have many more to do.

"There is rarely a shape that exists that cannot be made into a beautiful, shiny, copper cookie cutter," she says.

Resources:

Ecrandal Handmade Copper Cookie Cutters, P.O. Box 7795, Flint, MI, 48507

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