Tara Jackson - Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Quite often, I like to start my writing right in the middle, as if my readers already know what I am talking about, as if I were talking to a good friend who needs no updates. I was never good at the introduction, or the conclusion. In school, I would get so wrapped up in writing the middle, that I would bypass the beginning and the end completely, being proud of what I submitted.
The instructor, of course, would always return the paper to me, red pen, and oftentimes, permanent marker corrections decorating its surface, with requests to rewrite and return. I would be so set on being different that I would re-print, maybe correcting a few spelling errors (and sometimes punctuation, although that was also a part of my style) and re-submit the paper essentially unchanged. My biggest reasoning behind this was the question: How is anyone supposed to stand out if everything they did was the same as everyone else? If everyone did the same thing, and followed the same rules, and walked along to the same rhythm, there would be no leaders and there would be one person for every situation, position and job in every location all over the world. There would be nothing of interest for people to decorate with, read, watch or do. We would all be vanilla. I breezed through high school, college and challenging positions within companies this way, remaining loyal to what made me different.
When Charleston Forge co-owners, Art and Susan Barber, began talking to me about what they wanted to do with this company, and how it was destined to stand apart, they mentioned exactly these things. While it is still questionable where corporations fit into the blog world, it is even more questionable as to where a furniture manufacturer, in operation for more than 25 years in the high country of North Carolina, fits. Very few furniture companies embrace the social media aspect, and while we don’t aim to alienate anyone, we do want to stand apart. Be different. Rise above. One thing is clear; the Internet is a powerful tool, as is blogging and every facet of Social Media. Why can’t an “American made” furniture company take a bite out of that big ol’ slice of pie? We can use this tool to reach designers, and customers alike, all the while providing an entertaining read to break up the sometimes-monotonous tone of the workday.
So, from here on out, you can expect something different, something entertaining and thought provoking… from our joint ventures with Internet explosions like One Kings Lane and Rue La La, to the daily goings-on within our factory walls and an introduction to all of those individuals who make our company what it is. While we are a company, we are also people, who are so much more than metal, wood, finishes and fabrics.
We would love to hear back from all of our readers. Feel free to post a comment or feedback below.
Art Barber - Friday, November 18, 2011
Art Barber - Tuesday, October 04, 2011
The 6250 Warehouse End Table
If you take an old piece of lumber and clean it up a little, put it on a table base that you heated and hammered out of solid steel and somebody loves it and buys it, then you have a feeling of accomplishment and pride that very few have a chance to experience. It's what our artisans do every day and we love it. No wonder we have a passion for what we do.
Jeff Greer - Friday, September 16, 2011
We make a lot of handmade metal furniture here at Charleston Forge and we're proud of it. We’re inspired in part by the landscape here in the High Country of western North Carolina. Located in a high valley, surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, we can’t step outside the door or drive along the roads without being inspired by the textures of trees and mountain peaks older than we are. I can’t step outside without discovering beauty, people, and talents in this region. And I’ve lived here for 42 years. The High Country always, continually amazes me.
Take Friendswood Brooms for example. They turned broom-making into an art. Or, as they say on their Facebook page, each broom becomes a “unique piece of functional art.” In some of their pieces, it looks like art pulled right from the pages of Harry Potter. They’re just magical.
And they were made right here in North Carolina, in the young but history-filled United States of America.
Ralph Gates, a former NASA engineer, founded Friendswood Brooms in 1972. Prior to that move, he had learned Appalachian-style broom-making from an old mountain craftsman. When he left his position at NASA and relocated his family to Asheville, N.C., he took up those lessons and turned them into a business. Why? It certainly wasn’t for the money. It was for something far more valuable: family. “My new life,” he declared in an old National Enquirer article, “is centered around human values rather than materialistic values.” Decades later, even after Ralph’s passing, those values seem to be woven into every broom Friendswood Brooms make.
Broom maker Marlow Gates, left, with his late father and founder of Friendswood Brooms, Ralph Gates.
I had the privilege of meeting his son Marlow, a former architect, a few days ago. He leads the family business now, working at home in the remnants of an old general store dating back to the 1800s, making brooms with his wife and two sons, in a valley nestled between the mountains of western North Carolina. It’s an amazing experience visiting them and shopping for brooms; it’s almost as if you were a wizard getting ready for your first year at Hogwarts. But of course you may not be in Scotland or anywhere near the United Kingdom. They don’t have Marlow’s magic yet.
But we will. I’m excited to announce that Friendswood Brooms is coming to Charleston Forge. Watch our website as we get our online store populated with more details about purchasing one of their magical pieces from us. Don’t worry though. The brooms will have the same price whether you buy it from us or Friendswood Brooms. They’ll have the same lifetime guarantee, they’ll be made to be used, and they’ll be custom if you wish.
Either way, you have the chance to bring that little piece of North Carolina magic right to your home.
As always, thanks for reading,
Jeff Greer - Monday, August 01, 2011
Vicki Krueger, right, of West Jefferson, NC is seen with me, Art Barber, company chairman, when Vicki came by our Boone, NC facility last week to pick up the Cascade Drink Table she won during the Facebook competition the we held earlier this year. Vicki received the very first of these tables that we built. The competition asked Facebook fans to suggest names for the new product and to get their friends to “Like” their idea.
Vicki, a kindergarten teacher at Two Rivers Community School in Boone, toured the company’s factory with her husband, Steve, and got to see the manufacturing process up-close from start to finish. During the tour Vicki got to meet Ernie Houser, one of the company’s team of long-serving employees and the artisan who built the prototype that she now owns.
“I am truly thankful for the opportunity to own such a beautiful piece and have the opportunity to win it through the Facebook contest,” said Vicki. “Knowing that my table is from right here in the United States makes it more special to me.”
The hammered steel base of the table is one of the signature looks of Charleston Forge furniture and is similar to the company’s Hudson collection. It is complemented by a unique cast-glass top. The Cascade was introduced at the High Point Furniture Market in April 2011 and has been added to the catalog following a very strong reception from buyers and designers there.
As always, thanks for your interest.
Co-Founder & CEO
Philip Holman - Thursday, April 07, 2011
Charleston Forge Featured in Furniture Today.
Thank you Furniture Today for writing about the U.S. flag hanging in our High Point showroom. We're re-posting their article about us from their Furniture Market coverage this week.
You can also read their article on how American-made furniture is a growing category in the furniture market in general on their website at: www.furnituretoday.com/article/537679-_Made_in_America_furniture_becoming_a_popular_category.php
Thanks, and we're glad to have you on board FT!
Philip Holman - Monday, April 04, 2011
High Point Furniture Market - April 2011
Company president, RIck Grant, right, helps a customer try on a necklace made exclusively for Charleston Forge
by Boone artist, Kim Miller, at the High Point Furniture Market. At left is the "Ellipse" necklace,
part of the line of jewelry commissioned by the company.
Philip Holman - Thursday, March 31, 2011
The USS Greiner, on which my father-in-law served during World War II.
To emphasize our determination to manufacture and preserve jobs in America, we are displaying the American flag that flew on the warship that my father-in-law served on during World War II in our High Point showroom.
It reminds us of the sacrifices made by so many Americans who give their lives to protect the privileges we enjoy today. It symbolizes how lucky we are to have the freedom to live, work and play in such a great country. It calls out to all who pass by that our furniture is MADE in AMERICA.
We're passionate about what we make and where we make it and it hurts to see so many jobs lost from this country. It's not easy being in business here, but then again, business is not easy anywhere!
To compete with the world in our industry, we know that we have to be innovative, fashion focused, passionate, efficient and constantly evolving. We're actually seeing an increase in orders and have expansion plans, so it's obvious to us that our market likes what we are doing.
We will be showing table tops that an artist makes for us by melting glass and pouring it into molds. We've expanded our Warehouse Collection which features our signature metal frames and tops made with wood reclaimed from shipping pallets. We've added floor to ceiling mirrors (with acid etched mirror) and small upholstered stools to this collection. We made some display trolleys with metal frames and used old pine boards that we got from a Dutch cheese factory as the tops. (Come early, there are only a few available). New transitional and contemporary glass top coffee tables and drink tables by designer John Kolkka are spectacular. We even commissioned a local artist friend of ours to make us a line of jewelry that combines the same elements and techniques that we use in furniture making. Charleston Forge and jewelry, it's a natural!
It's all simple yet sophisticated, casual but elegant, imperfect but perfect. If that flag could talk, we think it would say, "Well Done!"
Thanks for reading,
Co-Founder & CEO
A Selection of Our New Products for Spring 2011
Top Left: The Tangle Pub Table and Counterstool.
Top center: The Warehouse 72" Cocktail Table
Top right: The Cascade Table with cast glass top
Bottom left: The Cheeseboard Display Cart
Bottom right: The High Country Console
Philip Holman - Thursday, March 24, 2011
Behind the scenes again: One of our Blacksmiths forging a solid 1x2-inch, piece of steel for a custom base.
The table-top that will go on it is a beautiful cross-section of a 34-inch wide parota tree.