A groundbreaking exhibition featuring original works from some of America’s finest craftspeople.
Curated by Racing Legend Dario Franchitti, The Balvenie 2014 Rare Craft Collection stands as a passionate expression of craftsmanship in all its forms. Featuring the creations of 21 talented artisans, this year’s collection boasts an even larger selection of crafts from across America—from bagpipes and bicycles to surfboards and saddles.
This private event is exclusive to WAREHOUSE 24 MEMBERS. Not yet a Warehouse 24 Member? Register to join us as we savor whiskies from the warehouses of The Balvenie distillery and raise our glasses to the men and women who continue to practice their respective crafts the old way—the right way—the handcrafted way.
Don’t miss this remarkable collection as it comes to a city near you.
Curator | Scotland
Throughout my career in motor racing, I've always held great admiration for those responsible for building the incredible cars I've had the great fortune to drive. Craftsmanship, in all its forms, is a huge passion of mine and when I was asked to curate the 2014 Rare Craft Collection by my friends at The Balvenie, I couldn't wait to get started.
Now in its second year, the Rare Craft Collection has proven to be an invaluable platform for American makers to showcase their work to new audiences. During the selection process I was struck by the level of passion and commitment, as well as the incredible stories that lie behind each one of the pieces you will find in this collection.
The number of pieces to choose from was overwhelming, but learning from each one was compelling. Collectively, these artisans and their pieces not only prove that we are experiencing a resurgence of traditional craftsmanship, but that we have an exciting and unstoppable movement on our hands.
I am incredibly proud of the way this crew came together. We have chosen an eclectic group spanning studies, interests and skills and I hope you enjoy viewing these pieces as much as I enjoyed choosing them!
ANT Bike | Walpole, Massachusetts
Inspired by turn-of-the-century photographs of European cyclists, Mike Flanigan and his wife, Betsy, set out to become the first handmade bicycle fabricator focused solely on transportation. They went to work crafting unique designs that would help commuters replace their cars with bikes and embrace cycling as a culture—not just a sport. Every one of his custom “Roadsters” style bikes combines timeless elegance and modern American construction.
The Truss Roadster epitomizes Mike’s ideal balance of aesthetic and function. The TIG welding techniques employed here form a seamless all-steel frame, while Mike’s trademark seat stay cap offers an exceptionally comfortable ride.
“I believe rare craft is an unbridled opinion of form and function.”
Martin Luther Leddy
M.L. Leddy's | Fort Worth, Texas
M.L. Leddy’s is a family-owned western wear maker located in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, and has been in the leather trade for almost a century. In 1918, Martin Luther Leddy left his family’s cotton farm to pursue his dream of making boots and saddles for local cowboys in Brady, Texas. Four generations and two stores later, his namesake company has proudly fitted presidents, royalty and rock stars, whose individual foot measurements have been painstakingly recorded by hand in Leddy’s historical ledger.
This saddle epitomizes M.L. Leddy’s expert level of skill and focus on detail. Every piece, from handmade western boots to hats fitted on bodies and sourced from the finest milliners in the world, stands as an enduring hallmark of Leddy’s uncompromised commitment to quality.
“One of the last great luxuries in the world is something totally handcrafted.”
MacLellan Bagpipes | Monroe, North Carolina
Trained as a silversmith in Glasgow, Scotsman Roderick “Roddy” MacLellan journeyed to the U.S. in 1980 where he honed his metal and woodworking skills with legendary craftsman and a 2014 Rare Craft Fellowship finalist Ubaldo Vitali. On a visit home, he picked up his father’s 19th century Peter Henderson bagpipe. It dawned on him that the craft in his hands was the one he was destined to master.
Beyond achieving the highest standards of tonal quality and musicality, each MacLellan bagpipe features beautiful contours and ornate metal work, combining alternate woods and unusual materials. This piece, made of wood from Balvenie oak casks and traditional African blackwood, is no exception.
“As a musical instrument builder, I have the added satisfaction of hearing an instrument that I have built come to life.”
McClure Tables | Grand Rapids, Michigan
Combined, Todd and Judy McClure have over half-a-century of experience in the shuffleboard business. When the industry shifted toward modern manufacturing, the McClures decided to open their own operation, focusing instead on the handcrafted traditions of their trade. With a passion for their craft and dedication to creating one-of-a-kind pieces for every customer, McClure Tables quickly carved out a place as America’s source for handmade, heirloom-quality gameboards.
Todd and Judy take great pride in keeping all aspects of production close to home, and every McClure board is built from locally harvested Michigan timber. The board featured here is the only exception. In honor of all whisk(e)y and this collection, Todd constructed this classic board from ex-Bourbon barrels, sourced from the Kelvin Cooperage a few hundred miles south in Louisville, Kentucky.
“A rare craft is not defined by the final product, but rather by the process with which it is created.”
NYCutlery, Inc. | Brooklyn, New York
Christopher Harth proudly crafts pieces that exist as essential tools within their owners’ daily lives. He finds inspiration in the notion that his knives, like The Right 224 featured here, help people come together over a homemade meal. This and his background as a multi-disciplinary visual artist drive Christopher to constantly seek methods to expand his art and improve his craft.
With an innate ability to see the greatest potential in discarded objects, all of his pieces are made from materials that would otherwise go to waste. Reclaimed, wood furniture becomes a knife handle. Old sawmill metal becomes a blade. It’s a rule of thumb that not only serves to inspire, but also honors the stories of the material’s previous and future owners.
“I am motivated to create tools that will be well used and cherished.”
Jacob & Louis Weinberg
Oxxford Clothes | Chicago, Illinois
Oxxford Clothes prides itself on being an American treasure. Founded in 1916 by brothers Jacob and Louis Weinberg, each garment has been handmade in their Chicago shop for nearly 100 years. Their philosophy of crafting products by which all other men’s tailored clothing is judged remains core to the business today. Early on, cultural legends such as Clark Gable, Joe DiMaggio and Walt Disney chose Oxxford for its fineness of craftsmanship and elegance of character. And while the styles and times have changed since then, Oxxford remains the gentleman’s standard in hand-stitched apparel today.
Since the company began, their focus has been to hand-make each garment—a stance that allows them to remain grounded in tradition while cultivating an eye toward presenting custom styling and trends. Every article of clothing, like the Tartan Plaid Dinner Jacket featured here, is crafted from the finest fabrics the world over. Dozens of hours are put into every individual piece, from cutting the pattern to stitching the lining.
“In order to be a rare craftsperson in the 21st Century, it is important to have an appreciation of older methods while being able to adapt to a modern setting.”
Jason Prigmore Handcrafted | Atlanta, Georgia
Jason Prigmore’s love of woodcraft is a family legacy. He recalls spending hours as a child, sitting on a dusty stool in his grandfather’s workshop, watching in awe as his grandfather painstakingly coaxed train sets and pull-toys from a single block of wood. Today, as a talented woodworker in his own right, family and quality remain central to his craft. Jason finds inspiration in objects made by hand and treasured through generations, like the limited-edition wooden stoppers he recently made for The Balvenie 15YO Single Barrel.
The making of small woodcrafts creates an ample supply of leftover wood, scraps he salvages to fashion one-of-a-kind pieces similar to the model boat featured here. Dubbed For Sail, this family heirloom has only been displayed on the mantle in the Prigmore home and has never been offered for purchase or commission, until now.
“A rare craft comes to life when one’s innate ability is ignited by creative desire and brilliantly perfect timing.”
Crystal Quinn Shoes | Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota artist Crystal Quinn has a keen desire to return to the handmade traditions lost to modern times. With a love for the nostalgia of old traditions and an appreciation of working in direct contact with her materials, the notion of shoemaking has lingered with her since she was a child. In 2012 her dream was realized when she and Colombian artist Luisa Fernanda Garcia-Gomez collaborated to create the shoe line Ina Grau.
After several years honing her leatherworking and cobbling skills, Crystal decided start her own namesake line of handmade shoes. Building each from scratch, Crystal uses materials such as denim and vegetable-tanned leather to craft androgynous, yet feminine shoes like the Leather Slips featured here. Her designs are decidedly classic in style, but when juxtaposed with playful patterns and pom-poms, they take on a charming, contemporary look.
“I find inspiration in the everyday. I believe that there is beauty in everything—you just have to allow yourself to see it.”
Michael Scarborough Design | New York City, New York
Before he became a full-time lacquer artist, Michael Scarborough spent 25 years singing opera internationally, developing unique opinions on art and craft as he traveled the world. When he retired in 2000, he reinvested the skills he honed as a musician—long daily practice sessions and a self-imposed demand to improve his craft—into his love for lacquer art.
Drawing on forms discovered during his time in Japan as a child, Michael’s works possess a distinctly Asian feel. Tea at Sunset was crafted on the lathe using pieces of carefully selected kiln-dried maple. Inspired by Japanese lacquer ware, the gloss-like surface evokes the molten warmth of a setting sun, a quality which Michael painstakingly achieves through days and layers of sanding, polishing and painting.
“This rare craft should not be attempted by anyone who has ever uttered the words ‘The clock is ticking’ or ‘Time is money.’”
Julian R. Halpern
Steelhead Studios | Holyoke, Massachusetts
Working from an old paper mill in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Julian Halpern’s design and fabrication workshop reflects the city’s rich industrial heritage. As the name suggests, steel is his material of choice, but hardly the only one used. Harlpern works with a variety of elements—from glass, to concrete, to reclaimed materials—in unusual combinations to highlight the understated elegance and functionality of steel.
Like the Indy Car Parts Table featured here, each piece represents both a personal tale of discovery and the story of the object itself. Crafted from steel uncovered in scrap yards, abandoned buildings and a burned-down amusement park, the histories of these found objects come together in new forms to bring out the singular beauty of the metal.
“A rare craft expands and redefines tradition through innovation, experimentation and most importantly, originality.”
Ubaldo Vitali, Inc. | Maplewood, New Jersey
Born into a silversmithing legacy that extends four generations, Ubaldo Vitali trained in his grandfather’s workshop in Rome before emigrating with his wife, Anita, to New Jersey in the 1960s. As one of the last smiths to fashion every element of his pieces, Ubaldo is proficient in both the methods of his predecessors as well as modern techniques.
The vitrines of Ubaldo’s workshop are filled with designs for Movado, Tiffany and Cartier, and his oeuvre includes works for Queen Elizabeth II, the Shah of Iran and several American presidents. His pieces, such as the Ubaldo Cowboy Hat, have appeared at the Newark Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
“Craftsmanship takes the commitment of a missionary who believes that the cause of saving the soul of the craft must be safeguarded, fostered and perpetuated.”
Works Manufacturing | Brooklyn, New York
Works Manufacturing is a small, Brooklyn-based design shop owned by husband and wife team Aleksey and Juliet Kravchuk. As lead designer, Aleksey draws inspiration from handmade pieces from the past, devoting most of his training to mastering the long-forgotten skills of his trade. Crafting metal fixtures and furniture the traditional way certainly isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. Aleksey’s work can be found in many Brooklyn institutions, from Spritzenhaus Beer Hall to the Wythe Hotel.
Aleksey’s furniture and fixtures combine industrial design with the practical beauty of traditional metal working. The result is art with a purpose, seen here in The Bogen Sconce. It’s constructed to withstand the test of use and time.
“When creating a light, I look forward to solving the relationship between the structural integrity of the piece and the design elements that give it life and beauty.”
Baxendale Guitar | Athens, Georgia
Scott Baxendale began restoring and building custom handmade guitars in 1974 when he traveled to Winfield, Kansas, to work with master luthier Stuart Mossman. From Johnny Cash to Jimi Hendrix, Baxendale has repaired and restored guitars for legendary musicians on his journey from Mossman’s apprentice to opening his namesake workshop in Athens, Georgia.
Baxendale’s guitars merge pre-war Martin and Les Gibson design elements with his specialized brace carving techniques and use of specific woods, allowing him to create a modern instrument with the singular sound quality of the finest vintage guitars. This custom Baxendale Harwood-style guitar, named Gabby in memory of owner Barry Brown’s daughter, exemplifies his meticulous attention to aesthetic detail and tonal quality.
“Rare craft is a passion that is not driven by the pursuit of profit, but by the creation of the product itself and the joy it gives to the person who ends up owning it.”
Vivian Beer Studio Works | Manchester, New Hampshire
Driven by a passion for industry, New England furniture maker Vivian Beer works primarily with metal because of its inherent physical and cultural attributes. Her pieces deftly counterbalance contemporary furniture design with historical architecture to create furniture that transforms relationships between consumers and the furniture in their homes.
Her collections include pieces in the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, MFA Boston, the Brooklyn Museum, and public art for Portland and Cambridge. This fall, she plans to study the history of American aeronautical design and draw inspiration for her next series as an Artist Research Fellow at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
“A rare craft is a creative practice that is either old enough to have fallen out of favor or new enough that few have mastered its intricacies.“
Canlis Glass | Seattle, Washington
Long before Jean-Piere “J.P.” Canlis first picked up a glassblowing pipe at an Introduction to Glassblowing class in preparatory school, art had been the driving passion in his life. Initially daunted by the complexity and technical intricacies of glassblowing, it wasn’t long before he found himself in the local glass shop before and after school. A few years later, J.P. would find his place working alongside Seattle glassmaking legend, Dale Chihuly, before opening his own studio.
As an avid surfer, and all around water sportsman, J.P. draws inspiration from nature and often finds his purest moments in or around the ocean. The Miniature Wheatfield, featured here, idealizes this organic motif and is comprised of hand pulled glass stalks with lampwork detail.
“When someone looks back at our life, it will be the things that we produce with our that will have the most impact and tell the story.”
Studio DUNN | Providence, Rhode Island
From a young age, Asher Dunn was fascinated with how things fit together—as a child he used a toy screwdriver to dismantle his family’s ventilation system just to see how it worked. Today, his obsession with function inspires simple, yet elegant furniture and lighting. Influenced by nature and mid-Century modernism, the beauty of Dunn’s work comes from thoughtful, purpose-driven design.
Working primarily with wood, Dunn and his team use a combination of age-old and modern techniques to transform high-quality domestic timber into timeless works of art. The handmade joinery and contemporary lines of the Coventry Stool and Kingstown Barstool epitomize his design approach. Made-to-order, each heirloom-quality piece is a labor of love from Asher and his entire team.
“As technologies advance, many ancient crafts like wood working are left behind, and it requires patience to relearn and perfect them.”
Rob McGowan & Ben Olson
Fin Art Co | Denver, Colorado
When childhood friends Rob McGowan and Ben Olson graduated from college in Boulder, Colorado, they were set to leave the world of hand-me-downs and thrifts stores behind. Without the money to afford modern designs, they followed a shared curiosity to see what their hands could produce and began melding contemporary furniture pieces together with vintage items.
Rob and Ben soon realized their passion for crafting had established a firm place for themselves as furniture designers and makers. The Fin Art End Table, with its sleek contours and vintage accents, embodies their unique take on modern, economical design.
“Rare craft takes a lot of determination, but the payout in having respect for your craft is worth every hour spent.”
Free Time Goods | Aspen, Colorado
Six years ago, Colorado native Emily Marshall found herself between jobs and with free time on her hands. To fill the hours, she picked up a pair of hooks and a skein and began crocheting. On the slopes of Aspen, she noticed a growing demand for handwoven hats, and realized that her hobby could become a passion that people would pay for.
The process begins with a selection of the highest quality merino wool from farms in Northern Colorado, where workers hand-dye the loose fibers before carding the wool into loosely twisted bands. Emily and her team hand-crochet these threads into toques and beanies. As a sustainable business, leftover scraps of yarn are kept and spun into beautiful skeins by a local artist, completing the cycle of craftsmanship.
“It takes dedication to stick to your craft, to follow a piece all the way through to completion.”
LUKE Haynes | Los Angeles, California
Luke Haynes is a self-professed architect turned quilter, using his love of design and tactile craft to create functional works of art. While Luke’s pieces are technically classified as quilts, in reality they are much more. His concepts pull from the annals of historical painting and sculpture, re-appropriating subject matter and materials to tell a decidedly American story stitched together in a decidedly American way.
The work featured here, Madame X, is just one example of Luke’s unique approach. Named after a John Singer Sargent painting of the same title, it’s sewn from recycled clothing and employs traditional quilting blocks to create a classic background. Luke’s other works can be found in galleries across the U.S., including the Brooklyn Museum, the American Folk Art Museum and the Headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The time investment of a rare craft weeds out the casual creator.”
Grain Surfboards | York, Maine
Grain Surfboards began as a basement operation, minutes from the beaches of York, Maine. With a love for both traditional wooden boat-building and board sports, Mike LaVecchia set out to create works of art for riding waves. A simple philosophy of “less impact on the environment, more impact on your surfing” has led Mike and his team to innovative techniques and unexpected designs.
The Sea Board began as a thought-experiment in bodyboard shapes, but when it became the first thing visiting pros picked up, Mike realized he’d stumbled onto something special. Solid, locally sourced cedar and distinctive side runners that channel the flow create a rugged board, perfect for jetting down waves with the water at eye-level. This beauty of this particular board comes from the intricate, wood-burning pattern designed by fellow surfer—and craftsman in his own right—Randy Gaetano.
“Dedication to your craft is a willingness to ignore the outside pressures of speed, efficiency and cost savings.”
Hartford Denim Co | Hartford, Connecticut
Dave Marcoux believes in a world where everyday products, like jeans, have a story to tell—one that begins when the tags are removed and is written as the wearer works, plays and lives in them. This philosophy led to Hartford Denim Company, a venture between Dave and his friends to make real American jeans, on real old American machines, the real hard American way.
Drawing inspiration from vintage workwear and manufacturing techniques of the past, Hardenco—as they like to call themselves—is in the business of crafting clothing that is truly timeless. Every pair of jeans, like the HARDENCO 010 Slim Cut pair featured here, is made on antique, industrial Union Specials and Singer sewing machines from the finest grade materials around.
“There are times when it is not easy to continue pursuing your craft. It is in those times that the craftsperson truly shines and perseveres.