Hubbardton Forge Tour
Of the four elements: air, earth, water, and fire; Man stole only one from the gods. Fire. And with it, man forged his will upon the world. ~Anonymous
The ancient trade of blacksmithing has awestruck me since I was a young child. I would spend hours watching blacksmith demonstrations at our local fair. The weathered hands of the blacksmith would grab a chunk of metal, which always looked like a whole lot of nothing, and then the magic would begin. Over hot coals and an open flame, he would hammer and sculpt over an anvil. Sometimes, he would produce something as simple as nails or spikes. Other times, he would create twisted door handles or delicate hooks, which I loved watching him make.
When Andrew, VP of Sales for Hubbardton Forge, invited me to tour the factory, I jumped at the opportunity. Not only was this a chance for me to meet the American craftsman and makers of a lighting line I specified for years, I was also going to see modern day blacksmiths! Andrew and the Hubbardton Forge family did not disappoint. I found myself flashing back to that feeling I had as a child—I was dazzled.
Yet, this trip was about so much more than the craft of blacksmithing—it is the story of a couple of college graduates who followed their passion. It all started back in 1974 in an old barn in Hubbardton, VT. George Chandler, a communications major, and Reed Hampton, a political science major, took a forging class, and fell in love with the art of blacksmithing (insert a little stroke of jealousy…this is a bucket list of mine!). They didn’t start out crafting the stunning fixtures we know Hubbardton Forge for, however. One of their first jobs was to fix the town’s snowplow!
Snowplow repairs morphed into candle sticks and fireplace accessories, which then led to lighting fixtures. Over time, and I’m sure as their craft became more polished, the line transitioned into the extensive, unique pieces of art presenting themselves as lighting fixtures.
Hubbardton Forge continues to utilize this age-old craftsmanship of blacksmithing, now combining it with 21st century technologies. They believe, like me, in celebrating American talent. Their exquisite fixtures also require pieces that aren’t forged, including glass, wood, leather, and LED light components. Hubbardton Forge hunts out local sources for these items, and has established partnerships with some of the finest in the business. Glass from Simon Pierce and AO Glass, wood components from Maple Landmark, and LED lighting components from LEDdynamics are all sourced in Vermont! They source their leather through Alpine Stitching; a master leathercrafter just over the state line in New Hampshire.
Sourcing these companies goes farther than supporting homegrown craftsmanship; it’s also sustainable. Think of the smaller carbon footprint Hubbardton Forge is creating just by sourcing locally. They aren’t shipping elements from overseas and trucking them to the factory. These partners each have their own commitments and mission statements to run more sustainable, green, clean manufacturing.
Hubbardton Forge is among the country’s oldest and largest few commercial forges operating, currently employing over 230 people at their facility. They have been serious about their own sustainability since they started. For over 48 years they have been committed to saving energy, preventing waste, and reducing their environmental footprint. They are a six-time winner of the Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, and a two-time winner of the ARTS Award for Green Manufacturing.
Hubbarton Forge…they are living the American dream.
As I walked through their manufacturing plant, now in Castleton, VT, I was greeted warmly by hundreds of employees smiling, eager to share their craft, educate me, and to make me part of their dream. It was crystal clear to me that this was so much more than a job…it was an honor to be contributing to the success of the company. They were makers of not just a light fixture, but something special.
Yes, this is Americans at their finest. This is what it means to be all American.
LDD Interiors looks to preserve American craftsmanship in our designs as much as possible and support home grown talent.