Thursday, April 25, 2013

Small Batch Furniture™ by Maynard Studios

In 2009, Matthew and I started making a small line of furniture.

They were traditional "square" tables with square head bolts, hand-forged steel & the wood was reclaimed from expired barns and bourbon aging warehouses of central Kentucky. The extra "pizazz" the tables offered, came from the fact they were locally sourced and made, and that they came out of a blacksmith's shop. Fairly noticeable in pictures, they had delightful texture in the forged steel, you could really see in person.

We started making these between our large railing commissions and sold a few dozen over the course of the next few years. We were very proud to deliver one to a living room in Louisville, another whole set went to Rhode Island after a homeowner saw them while visiting a gallery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Another client requested some custom pieces be made to fit his home in Pennsylvania.  Matthew and I are also excited to someday eat at the crab shack in Maryland that has a few of our first design (and very hard to make, labor intensive) bar stools.

Not exactly a high profit margin first venture, the wood guys made more than we did on the first pieces, but we enjoyed making each one and even better, we were learning. Getting to know each client and incorporating them into our story is fun, and I have to admit that starting and finishing a commission in a shorter amount of time than the railings (which can often take three months from start to finish) is refreshing.

Metal pieces in the forge get heated  up to 2000 degrees F.

Pieces of our Bourbon Stools after being forged & hammered,
cool naturally and then get wire brushed & clear coated.

 Here I am putting together a Small Batch Furniture™  
Hall Table before delivery.

Last year during our stretch to expand our blacksmithing shop, we were approached by a local distillery who was planning to build a new visitor center. By this time we were happy we were getting some experience in the furniture market, but we only had a handful of items. We accepted their challenge and came up with some additions to our line that have evolved into something a visitor might expect to see when taking a tour of a local distillery or entering their gift shop.

Tables made from reclaimed Bourbon Barrels
Of course we didn't wait long to show off (once again) that it's a blacksmith whodunnit'! We added purse hooks to the inside of the bar table and highlighted the 'wrought iron' in the stools too, making the barrel staves the seat, backrest & foot rest.  Our bar table and stools are now the most well received of the Small Batch Furniture line.

If you look close you can see the coat hook inside the Bar Table leg.

And man, does the shop smell good when we're sanding down those barrel staves! (Occasionally we smell the mash from the distilleries from our front porch, but it's a different smell to be working with the reclaimed barrel!) It was a good design challenge and we've been happy with the results. 

Also, with making & selling furniture across the country, we had learned to assembly-line what we could,  how to help keep the cost down for the customer and the time frame down for us, & ways of making it easier to do furniture runs between big jobs. We also experimented with weight & dimensions to help keep shipping to a minimum (two day shipping in a cardboard box via UPS, beats a freight truck any day!). We also discovered  how to best handle freight shipping for unavoidably larger items, what to look for when shopping for shipping insurance, and what it means to be working with small artisan galleries and the things that are important to them. 

Some of the Small Batch Furniture™ by Maynard Studios

A few weeks ago we were honored to be one a few hand selected artisan-businesses to present at Maker's Mark's first annual Handcraft Festival. We were able to meet with thousands of their Ambassadors (very special guests & clients) and show our handiwork, & getting to talk to people face to face was definitely the best part. Many good responses about our railings and lots of good feedback on the furniture. As we speak, I'm preparing to ship a set of stools and a bar table to Texas this week, for one of the guests we met there in Loretto.

Overall we've had some really good experiences over these past few years, and we've already started moving forward with other furniture designs. I am sure the line-as-is might drop a few early pieces but I'm excited about the new ones we'll be gaining later this year. There are a couple of really cool designs in development and you can look for us to shake it up a bit!

Contact for line sheets. 
If you are interested in seeing these in person or purchasing:

Completely Kentucky
237 W. Broadway St
Frankfort, KY 40601

Damselfly Studio & Gallery
126 E Main St
Midway, KY 40347

Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
200 Artisan Way
Berea, KY 40403

Bourbon & Boots
Authentic Southern Gifts, Stories & Style

1 comment:

  1. If you're on Snapfish, you can view our Small Batch Furniture (Bourbon line in book form) here: