Comments: Many people go to great lengths to dress their table. And as long as the decorations aren't used to compensate for a potential lack of flavor*, we're fine with that, supportive even. And one place your table can shine is with a pepper mill from William Bounds, Ltd. We have been using two, and they literally are works of art.
These hand-painted, Art-Deco pepper mills are made of stainless steel and/or wood, and range in shape from what we describe as a lighthouse to what Bounds describes as tulips, gourds, serpents, peels, vases, or squatty pawns. The grinders in this series were designed by Michigan artist Robert Wilhelm. Some were inspired by Native American Indian totems and fetishes. Some are available with matching salt shakers; some have the salt shaker built in. With others, you're on your own in getting salt to the table.
Now, it wouldn't matter how beautiful they were, if they weren't excellent pepper mills at the same time, which they are. These mills have an innovative ceramic mechanism that evenly crushes peppercorns, rather than grinding them between mill components. The one possible drawback is if you like your pepper ground very coarsely. There is an adjustment ring with 3 grind settings: fine, medium and coarse – and there is a clear difference among them – but all are relatively fine. The coarsest grind on these mills is finer than the finest setting on some other pepper mills we've tried. We are quite happy with the coarsest grind, but we know that some people prefer their pepper chunky, and these may not be the mills for those people.
The other challenge is that these mills can be a little hard to find. Some models are available at Amazon.com and some at other online shops. Many are available from the William Bounds web site, but even that can be hit-or-miss – the mills we're been testing can be bought from the company directly (800-473-0504) but are nowhere to be found on the web site. Apparently you have to discern their existence, then pick up the phone.
There is a lot of design that goes into the production of certain kitchen tools, tableware, even appliances, but seldom is there art. This is one of those times.
*We are convinced that anyone who can dress a table can produce delicious food! Well, we are convinced that anyone can produce delicious food.