PEPIN COUNTY, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Our next stop in Pepin County brings us to a workshop where a couple have been creating original metalwork for over 30 years. Phoebe Murray takes on a behind-the-scenes tour of T&C Latane in the village of Pepin.
A couple welded together through the craft of metalwork.
“I kind of started doing more tin work when I married Tom and I was surrounded by metal tools, so he definitely complimented my tin career,” said Catherine Latane, of T&C Latane.
Catherine’s, or ‘Kitty’s’, element of choice is tin, and tom, long time blacksmith, sticks to iron & steel. The two have been married since 1981 and opened T&C Latane in 1983, but their interest in all things metal dates back much further.
Catherine said, “Even as a child I mutilated tin cans, I must have had some internal drive to mess with tin.”
Tom Latane said, “I saw blacksmiths at colonial Williamsburg growing up in Maryland and it looked like fun. I was always sticking stuff in the campfire at family outings, so it was a natural route to follow.”
In recent months around the shop, Tom says the pandemic has gone unnoticed in their line of work.
Tom said, “The shop has never had a lot of foot traffic through it so there hasn’t been a big difference that way, but custom work has carried us through.”
Even their watch dog Cinder, helps out around the shop.
“She’s good at helping with the social distancing, she keeps people at six feet,” said Catherine.
A majority of Tom’s custom metal work revolves around restoring historical artifacts and tools.
“A lot of antique repair keys for old immigrant trunks because most of them locked when you close the lid so the keys either inside or its been lost and so I make a new key to open the lock,” said Tom.
For nearly 30 years, he’s been repairing artifacts for the Castlerock Museum in Alma, but his favorite work comes out of intricate pieces where no two products come out the same.
Today’s project, a tin teapot.
“This is the material that I start with, which is a product in itself its thin steel that has been coated on both sides, dipped actually in tin,” said Kitty.
“Tin is an element that is very soft, it’s not even practical to use for much in its pure form.”
Kitty attributes much of her skillset to mentor’s and friends along the way.
“Self-taught I always think is a kind of a myth people who are self-taught just aren’t giving credit to the many people they’ve learned from,” said Catherine.
When it came to calling Pepin home, the two said the decision was simple.
Tom said, “The scenery, we picked Pepin because it was beautiful along the river, Pepin had a school, and a hardware store and grocery store which none of the other little towns, right close by here had.”
The Latane’s have been busy leaving their mark on Pepin.
In Pepin County, Phoebe Murray, First News at Nine.