It began over seven years ago when I decided to visit an old friend in Northern California. We were talking on the phone when she told me she purchased a table from Ikea and was having problems putting it together. I said I would come up to help her which surprised her since we were about one hundred miles apart. We joked around about it and in a few minutes finished our once a month phone call. It dawned on me shortly after we hung up that my day was open and I had exactly nothing to do all day, so I packed a small tool box, grabbed a jacket and drove from Monterey to San Anselmo to help assemble her table.
I took a chance on the two-hour drive to see her, was very happy to hear her answer the phone as I arrived in town and gave her a call. She started with wow, twice in the same day. I replied, I can do you one better! I’m sitting at Andronico’s come show me where you live! In the past we were very close and over the last twenty-five years remained in contact usually by telephone with a once or twice a year visit. She met me at the store and my surprise visit was accepted with open arms.
After we finished with the table we decided to go into town for dinner. After dinner as we walked to the car from the restaurant, we passed a store where she saw a rustic wood and flower center piece in a store window. She said, “Now that is something I would like to have on my table.” Having taken note to what she said, I drove home that evening with the intention of purchasing the piece and having it delivered to her home. To my surprise I was told they could not (or would not) deliver.
After being told they would not deliver I decided to make one and send it to her. After all, how hard could it be. I went to several stores and bought material to build a likeness of what I remembered she appreciated. As I sat outside my garage with tape, glue, string, sticks and stones struggling to achieve what I thought would be a piece of cake to accomplish, my neighbor from across the street approached me and asked, “what are you doing?” I told him the story and he replied, those are nice - want to sell one? At this point I have filled my worktable with several versions of centerpieces, all of which I felt could be better and more like the piece I remember seeing in the window. In gave it no real thought when he bought two of them, one for his wife the other for his sister-in-law.
For next couple of days, I scurried home after work to build the center piece for my friend in San Anselmo. Finally, I had a few I thought were good enough to be centerpieces. I was excited about the idea of sending one of them as a surprise gift to match her new table. I put them in my car to pack and mail after work the next day.
That night was league bowling night. I arrived at the bowling alley found my lanes and began to prepare for the evening. As I was preparing to bowl, one of the employees mentioned it was her birthday. I have known her for years and have come to cherish her as a friend. I could see she was excited about her birthday and the opportunity to celebrate herself (something we should do more of). I have a present for you I said, and I asked her to come out to my car. We went to the car where I gave her one of the center pieces as a gift. The second I placed it in her hands she began to cry. She was overwhelmed and stated "it is absolutely beautiful." In a short while, after she regained composure, we went back inside where she began to show her gift to other bowlers and employees. By the end of the night I had orders for at least twenty candleholders.
And since that time things have changed. Techniques, quality, and focus have improved and today we are “Artistic Candleholders,” the creators of “Art that lights up your life.”
We begin with Redwood found at Big Sur California, Central coast Manzanita, Cypress and Pine of Pebble Beach, Pacific Madrone from the Oregon Coast, various grapevine and root from northern and central California vineyards, and occasionally coastal driftwood. Paying close attention to the grain, character, shape and size of each piece as we comb forest and beach for raw material carefully selected for its artistic quality and workability.
Once selected, each piece goes through a baking and curing process. We then strip, clean, and detail each piece to reveal its natural beauty (we believe each piece makes an individual statement, and our task to translate each statement into a declaration of art.) Once the unique piece has been revealed we re-bake, finish, seal and polish each piece to the standard of “Art that lights up your life." We say unique because for as beautiful as our candle holders are, another very important aspect is no two pieces are alike. Each piece is given personal identification number, photographed and cataloged… many are named as a process of creation.
Today thousands of people and businesses are proud and happy owners of “Artistic Candleholders.”
It’s been over seven years since I made that trip to San Anselmo to help assemble my friends table, and although I’ve made hundreds – maybe thousands since that day, ironically, I have yet to send her a centerpiece.