Meet The Maker / 01: Melanie Abrantes

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Meet Melanie Abrantes. A designer and maker by trade, the bubbly Texas-native is one of Los Angeles’ rising talents – a real hidden gem! Trust me – she’s one to watch for! Charming, perpetually happy, and just a complete pleasure to be around – Melanie has an energy about her that translates into both her work and craftsmanship. The idea of quality and taking time to hand make something worthy of passing down through generations, is the premise behind her thoughtful creations. A true labor of love.

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Over the past year at the studio, I’ve watched Mel hone her skills in woodworking with the first cake stand that she made for a secret santa gift exchange, and now explorations into cork-based pieces – a material that has roots in her Portuguese heritage. After debuting her California Tree Series in Crafting Community’s One King’s Lane Artisanal Sale last year, Melanie is now selling her one-of-a-kind bowls, vases, planters and stands alongside local LA makers Hedley & Bennett and Dominik Woods on the much-coveted marketplace now through Jan 31st.

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1. As a product designer, what drew you to work with wood and cork as materials? I loved the look and feel of both materials. You get such rich colors in the grains of wood and such a simplicity in the cork. I am such a tangible person, and being drawn to the feel of an object is always something that entices me. I am also the first one to get kicked out of a museum because I always have the urge to touch the sculpture, I KNOW it’s wrong….but I cant help it!

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Old Fashioned Bourbon Cherry Popsicles

I’m a total sucker for a good Old Fashioned, so when I was asked by Billy of Wit & Vinegar to participate in #popsicleweek I knew I had to make a popsicle based on one of my go-to cocktails. My favorite Old Fashioned is from Townhouse in Venice Beach, which is luckily just down the street from our bungalow. If you ever have the chance to go, make sure you ask for George – he makes the best Old Fashioned – trust. He’s been a bartender there for over 10 years which totally speaks for itself.

While cherries aren’t traditionally a huge part of this historical drink aside from being a garnish, it’s one of my favorite fruits. Growing up in Michigan, we would venture north for vacation every summer (aka “going up north” as us Michiganders would say) to the Traverse City area. Cherries are a staple of Michigan’s agriculture and each summer, Traverse City plays host to none other than the National Cherry Festival. Think cherry salsas, jams, pies – literally everything under the moon including a Cherry Queen. C’mon, you had to know that was coming, right? Anyway, I wanted to offset the strong taste of the bourbon with something sweet and since it’s cherry season, I figured, why not?

Old Fashioned Bourbon Cherry Popsicles

* I adapted this recipe from my gal Marissa at Bourbon & Goose. Also, this should make about 10 popsicles with a standard freezer pop maker.

· 3 cups of cherries
· 4 large oranges
· 1 cup bourbon ( I used Bulleit Bourbon which is one of my faves)
· 1 cup of orange simple syrup

Orange Simple Syrup

· 1/3 cup water
· 1/2 cup sugar
· 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Put sugar + water in a sauce pan and heat until sugar dissolves completely. Add in the orange juice and stir. Wait for the syrup to cool a bit before using.

Now onto the popsicles!

Pit the cherries, then set aside. Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until it’s all pureed and relatively smooth. Yes, the puree will be a bit thick! Now, pour the puree into your popsicle mold, then freeze overnight. To release the popsicles, run warm water on the outside of the popsicle molds for a few seconds (or a tad longer if they are being difficult). Note that if you add in extra bourbon, the popsicles won’t freeze solid! Remember, in this case – less is more.

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Be sure to check out all the other amazing recipes from bloggers this week as part of Popsicle Week over here! I can’t wait to try out Autumn’s Salted Bourbon Caramel Pops and Izy’s Green Smoothie Detox Pops – what about you?

*Big thanks to Melanie Abrantes for lending me her handmade wooden cake stands to use in this post! See more of her beautiful work here.

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