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“Paul Michael’s Workshop”

My friends in Arkansas own The Paul Michael Company. It is a set of stores in the South that offers a variety of things in the home design department at very affordable prices. That’s the place I had my Arkansas book signing last fall with Rhoda and her famous tamale’s, remember?

But my favorite thing that they carry is their very own hand made furniture, made by Paul Michael himself along with his helpers.

This is one of my very, very favorite things. They are wooden cutting boards that have a ridge all around the sides to capture the juices.

Also… look at the handles! They are made of deer antlers. This piece is masterful. It nourishes my soul.

This is another cutting board that he makes. It is a beautiful oval shape with wood of many colors.

 

Look! Isn’t it beautiful? It’s on top of the deer antler cutting board. In case that wasn’t clear.

And it has a lip, also for the purpose of keeping your juices and your food well contained on the cutting board.

If all goes according to plan, I’m going to be offering these on Open Sky soon. So follow me there if you want one of your own!

But here’s the thing about Paul Michael. He finds things. Not just any things, he has an eye, a sixth sense… he is the original American picker. He collects wood siding from abandoned homes in the Delta, pillars like these, from old estates. He collects things and sees value in them where most people just see junk. And he re-purposes them.

Sometimes, when he comes across a spectacular antique that is one of a kind, he makes reproductions. Like this snazzy chair.

Or this wooden table, lying on top of the original that he found somewhere in the crevices of the world.

But this. This. It is my favorite piece. I have laid claim to it. I harassed him for 3 days until he agreed (I think? Did you agree Paul?) that I could buy it.

This was the original. It actually has an amazing story to it. The reason it is so high, is so that people could ride up to it on their horses in the olden days and remove their cocktail from the table top.

Also, see how tall the drawers are? That is so it can hold tall bottles of whiskey and bourbon.

Did I mention I must have this?

The proportions are mesmerizing. It adheres to the golden mean.

I like this a bit better than the original because Paul added his own personal flair to it. Deer antler handles.

The reason he did this was so that it was clear he wasn’t trying to copy this original and legendary antique, but rather honor it, and give it a bit of whimsey.

Did I mention I must have this?

But one more thing. There is a story with the wood too. See all of the lines? See how some are far apart and some are close together? Each line represents a year of the tree’s life. In years where there were droughts the lines were very fine and close together. This is Cyprus, and hundred year old Cyprus is hard to come by anymore.

He and I spent some time deciding on the base of a table he was reproducing. He was using siding from old houses… and there were many pieces of siding to choose from.

This is the original table. Isn’t it pretty?

Can you tell which one of these shelves is the original and which are the reproductions?

I kind of love that you can’t. It’s all wood from the siding of old Delta homes. Don’t you want to know the story behind those homes? Who lived inside the walls? I would think about that a lot if I had one of these shelves in my home.

In case you are still wondering, the green shelf on the far right is the original.

He makes these for the porch…
I want.
He makes a love seat rocking chair too.

And a set of painters use special antiquing techniques to bring the furniture to life and give it character.

An Amish man arrived with these while I was there. Aren’t they cool? Hide chairs.

Chairs in the process of being built and painted…

Here is another example of where Paul see’s value in the world where we might not.

These were buckets of some sort… I forget exactly what they once were. But he found hundreds of them. And guess what he’s doing with them now?

This.

Perfect for storage in a small kitchen or a tool area.

There are doors, so many of them, and I wonder who once walked through them and what they are going to become.


Um… old skis. Like really vintage ones. I think I saw him making a bench out of them… but you never know.

A small chopping block, perfect for a NYC apartment.

And this. I want. It is the real deal. A serious antique.

More bins that he has collected and look what they become…


…the perfect kitchen counter.

Old antique tables he’s found on his journey’s around the country.


A church pew anyone?
That would look nice in my bedroom.


And remember that table base that we were working on in the beginning of this post?
They’ve already made progress while we were on our tour.

And look how he re-purposed the pillars to make table legs.


The original.
Kind of amazing.

Here they all are, huddling over a beautiful piece of wood, deciding on its future. It’s such a wonderful place, this workshop. These are artisans at work.

If you have a chance to drop into one of their stores and see the fruits of their labor, it is worth a special journey.

Here is their website: The Paul Michael Company
and…
The Paul Michael Company Facebook Page

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Comments

  1. What amazing craftsmanship, I want it all!

  2. I am oggling everything- it’s all so beautiful- but I love the cutting boards and that incredible kitchen island most of all!

    • Perhaps you’d like to see more by the company that designs and builds the cutting boards and kitchen islands. It has a history of woodworking dating back 1902. If so, check out their picasa album at picasaweb.google.com/sales.bbf.

  3. I would like one of every dang thing!

  4. Big Steve says:

    Loved all these pictures Georgia P. What great work these folks are doing. My eyes popped wide open when I saw that RCA Victor chair. We use to have one at a station I worked at just like it. The owner had been an electronics dealer in our area and had it along with an old radio that I always admired. I never could talk him out of the chair but the radio died one day and he gave that to me. I kept it for years but finally sold it to a friend that fixed it up. I wish I had kept it. Thanks for the post. Keep up the great work. Be Blessed!!!

  5. I want it all! Gorgeous, just gorgeous. I am also sending my Mother there very soon!

  6. So so so very gorgeous. My husband would go crazy for that stuff!! I wish I could have met you while you were in AR…maybe one of these days when you drive through we could meet.

  7. Georgia, these pieces are spectacular! Beautiful handcrafted gems. And that piece you picked out would be perfect here. Especially because it holds tall bottles of bourbon. Mainly.

  8. Wow, so many fun pieces! Love them all!

  9. I am always in awe of a great artist and craftsman. Thank you for the peek inside his mind and workshop Georgia! Did you get your piece?

  10. BEAUTIFUL!!

    Makes me miss my Dad SOOOOO much! he (and my brother) was a furniture builder, most of the pieces in our home were built by him (so I still have him near)…..we had a family retail business for 15 yrs.selling custom furniture, all of those workshop pictures in your post brought back such memories – Dad passed away 7 years ago, and we closed the shop 3 years ago.

    Paul Michael’s work is stunning.

  11. Oooh, Georgia, this place looks divine. I’m crossing my fingers that they get some of it on OpenSky so I can splurge on a few things!

  12. Such beautiful furniture! So unique and lovely! I want that butcher-block island with the galvanized steel containers under it!

    • I know, isn’t that piece amazing? You could store onions and potatoes and hammers and whatever else in there.

  13. That wood shop looks much too dangerous for my taste. I fear I’d have to sell a kidney or something in order to afford everything I would like to buy! And I NEED that kidney!

    • Actually… you wouldn’t BELIEVE how little they sell it for. Rural Arkansas prices… it’s breathtaking.

  14. I drive through Arkansas every summer and next summer I’ll make sure and stop at his shop. His pieces are beautiful! Thank you for highlighting his work.

  15. I live about 30 minutes from the Paul Michael’s store in Lafayette, Louisiana. It is one of my very favorite stores to shop/browse in. It is HUGE and filled to the brim with amazingness. It is one of those stores that you never know what you will find while you look but you will see at least one thing you can’t live without. Oh and you should see it at Christmas, just breathtaking.

    • Yes, I’ve been there at Christmas, it is SO amazing! And I agree, there are so many gems to be uncovered.

  16. That’s so cool that you had a furniture company. It seems like such an adventure, though all consuming : ) A fun way to live life though I think.