The Art of Furniture

Charleston Forge has a long history of hand-building beautiful, high quality, steel, wood, and leather furniture. We have an extensive catalog of products and do a large amount of custom work and have built product for retailers such as Room & Board, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel and Bloomingdales, Starbucks, just to name a few.


Philip Holman - Thursday, March 10, 2011

My grandfather, of German descent, was a very creative guy. He wasn't an artist, that I know of, but he was always conjuring up something that nobody else had thought of, or if they did they had never acted on the thought.

Back in his day, most homes that were fortunate enough to have some sort of central heating burned coal. The furnace was in the basement so one had to carry the coal in buckets from where the coal delivery truck dumped in the yard to the basement. Pop, as we called him, poked a hole in his basement wall and installed a motorized conveyor system that delivered the coal to a bin right beside his furnace. He never patented the system that he created but he should have.

Sometime back in the late 1940's he made an elaborate Christmas tree stand that would take me too long to explain, just know that he loved having people over to their house to have their picture made by the tree. Honey, my grandmother, held the camera and Pop would always tell his friends (soon to become his victims) to look at the tree and touch it so they didn't look so posed in the picture. The moment they touched the tree, he mashed a button and the tree would fall right into the friend's arms. Honey would always catch the terrified looks on their faces as they thought they had destroyed Pop and Honey's beautiful Christmas tree. We have hundreds and hundreds of pictures of their friends with the funniest looks on their faces. That tree stand still exists but I think the last time my Dad rigged it up in the house I grew up in was over forty years ago. Those of you who remember the TV Show called Candid Camera, they once contacted my Dad to see if they could film it but Dad turned them down. It was our secret to keep until now.

I'm no artist either but I think some of Pop's creative chromosomes worked their way into my life. The beautiful little table that we just gave away reinforces that in my mind. He was always thinking of things to do or make that not everyone else would even dream of. I'm in the furniture business and it's a fashion business so I'm always dreaming of shapes and components and techniques and colors and whatever I can do that not everybody else is doing.

The cast glass top on this little table has been laying around our shop for several years. I knew it was something special because I haven't seen this type of glass used as a table top anywhere in the industry. It's made by pouring molten glass into a mold, causing it to cure with gentle waves and wrinkles and air bubbles. It's not perfect, but it's perfect. It's a slow laborious process and we couldn't introduce it into the market because the source we got this piece from couldn't deliver the quantity we'd need. Finally, we found a glass artist who is able to provide the quantities we need, and like me and Pop, he is creative enough to figure out how to make it work, so here we go.

Congratulations Vicki, you just won something very special. Copies are sure to come, but you have an original. If you take care of it and this story, I'll bet that when the next generation rolls around, some kin of yours will have a very valuable piece of American made furniture from Charleston Forge. Thank you for wanting it so bad and appreciating it so much.

- Art

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