Implements of cultivation and design have always been held in high esteem by artisan producers for they are an extension of the vision and process of creating a unique product, something that goes beyond the mundane. The tools used are often specially designed and often handed down from one generation to another. Artisan producers use their tools to practice their craft and consider them to be of great importance. Nowhere is this more evident than in Italy. For example, tools and equipment used in the mixing, kneading, rolling, cutting (bronze dies) and drying of artisan pasta are specially designed to produce shapes and rough textures that allow the sauce to adhere to every delectable bite.
Whether making shoes, blowing glass, weaving textiles or painting ceramics the tools of the Italian artisan are essential to the outcome of the product. Violin makers, bookbinders, gilders, ironworkers, sculptors and cheese makers have their own set of tools.In the artisan making of Parmigiano Reggiano there is the “spino”, a balloon-like whisk used to mix the cheese and break down the curd. The cheese maker uses a percussion or tapping hammer to tap the outside of the cheese listening carefully to the way the crust takes the blows. The screw-needle pierces the cheese to extract a small sample of the contents and check the internal consistency while the sampling dowel or trier is used when a wheel needs to be cored and tested. And the famous bulb-handled knife; a short, pointed, almond-shaped knife used to break the wheel open, with one side thinner to aid penetration while the other is thicker and to act as a wedge.