CustomMade Resources for Collecting Handmade Furniture
Where to begin if you’re interested in collecting handmade furniture? Have you settled on the criteria for your selections? Defining and refining the rhyme and reason for your collection is a fun way to start, and most likely you’ll continue to define and refine your tastes with every piece you add. Will you focus on a single time period, place, style, maker, or article of furniture, or will you take a broader approach? Whatever choices you make, CustomMade has resources and artisans available that can help you achieve your goals as a collector. Here are a few questions to consider as you embark on your quest.
Choose Your Path
A recent article in the New York Times referred to a study by a team of psychologists from Yale University that suggests that the degree of “celebrity contagion,” the degree of physical contact, is the most important factor in people’s motivation to possess celebrity memorabilia ranging, for example, from Eric Clapton’s guitar named “Blackie” to faithful replicas of that guitar.
Whether you are inclined to agree or disagree with that view, the issue addressed by the study is a good starting point for figuring out your own approach to collecting in general or to acquiring a particular item.
Just how important is it to you to own and display an item that was “in contact” with a particular historical era, owners, or maker? (Remember, antique handmade furniture has come into contact with makers and former owners and users in very intimate ways). Judge its importance however you wish – personally, emotionally, academically, or financially.
If that contact is important to you, the antique way is for you. If you find yourself attracted to the furniture of historical eras and makers, but prefer the aesthetics instead of the “contagion,” custom reproduction furniture would be a good choice for you. On the other hand, if you prefer to create something wholly new or a new piece inspired by the styles or techniques of the past (and some of those styles and techniques are kept alive by skilled CustomMade artisans), going custom made is your best fit.
CustomMade has something to offer you no matter which of the three choices you make.
The Antique Way
After acquiring antique treasures, you more than likely will need to find skilled custom repair and custom restoration services. Look at the difference the ministrations of Andrew C. Maher Custom Furniture and Repair made on this antique rocking chair rediscovered in a basement.
If your antique finds need paint restoration or refinishing, you’ll want to match the original not only in appearance but in materials, too. The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co., Inc. has developed a homemade formula for genuine milk paint that was typical for Colonial era and Shaker style furniture that their artisans use for authentic antique restorations.
Before you acquire your antiques, however, you’ll need to determine if your latest discovery is in fact an authentic, handmade antique. There is no escaping the fact that you will need to do a little research before you invest wisely in antiques. Here are a few resources that can help you.
CustomMade artisan Marc Galante of Mediterrania wrote a guest piece for our blog, “What Makes an Antique ‘Antique,’” that gives you nine specific questions you should address about the condition and construction of any antique before you purchase it.
The TLC website features a very thorough article, “How to Identify Antique Wood Furniture,” that will give you information on determining the age of a piece of furniture, a primer on older furniture styles, and guidelines for determining whether it’s worthwhile or possible to restore a piece. Although written for a DIY audience, this article will help you make a realistic assessment of an antique’s potential for restoration before you buy it.
Not all that glitters is … wood. If you are dealing with pieces made from copper, “How to Identify Antique Handcrafted Copper Items” is a good set of guidelines for doing your homework (yes, homework) before you buy.
Handmade Reproduction Furniture
Perhaps you’re in love with a piece of furniture you can’t have or that exists only in an old picture. Custom antique reproduction can add replicas of these items to your collection, created in the same style and with the same materials as the original. Just last month, Michael Huber of Chesapeake Cabinet and Woodworks put the finishing touches on this reproduction of a 1765 Philadelphia Chippendale clock. The walnut and white pine were carefully selected for their quality and figuring, and the whole upper portion or “hood,” from the goose neck to the flame finials, has been hand carved.
A CustomMade furniture reproduction expert can also help you create companion pieces or other elements that will help integrate an antique into your home or display area. AM Woodcarving created a stand for an antique music box from the same kind of oak used for the music box. The design and stain of the table stand is also patterned off the antique.
You might be asking yourself, can I legally have a copy of a piece of furniture or home décor made for me? Don’t fret. Michelle Rosenberg, intellectual property attorney, answered this very question in her guest blog post, “Can You Legally Make a Copy of This Piece of Furniture or Home Décor Item for Me?”
Go Custom with the Right Style
With original custom furniture, you won’t have to worry over any legal ramifications or whether your piece is truly handmade. You can select the materials, style, and design of a future addition to your handmade furniture collection and watch a CustomMade artisan in your area make it a reality. If your criteria are based on a particular style or maker, you should take advantage of the option to search the CustomMade galleries “By Style.” At the bottom of our homepage you have many options under “By Style:” Custom Art Deco, Custom Art Nouveau, Custom Modern, Custom Southwestern, etc. If you sort your search results “By Maker,” you can quickly find artisans with experience in that style. For example, in makers with Art Deco projects, you can find Michael Neiman Fine Wood Furniture and his maple and bubinga deco entry table. You can also refine any gallery search by selecting the “By Style” option of your choice to the left of the gallery page, for example, modern custom kitchen and dining.
If you don’t see the style you’re interested in listed under “By Style,” just enter the style name in the “Search CustomMade” box and press the Search button. For example, you can find pieces by makers in the Greene and Greene style, such as this mahogany Greene & Greene Style Blanket Chest by Darrell Peart Furnituremaker.
Getting into a custom mindset isn’t always easy, especially if you’re taking your first steps into the world of customization and furniture collecting. If you find meeting with an artisan and explaining how you want your furniture made a daunting prospect, you might benefit from reading guest blogger Chris Becksvoort’s article, “How To Commission Furniture Built for You.”