In a high-tech world, more of us are drawn to handcrafted furniture and accessories, textiles, and more. And makers who create those lovingly created items abound in Minnesota—local artisans find plenty of inspiration and ready pool of consumers here.
Our good fortune hasn’t escaped the notice of a new television series, “Handcrafted America,” which debuted on INSP network March 1. The series follows host Jill Wagner as she travels across the country visiting men and women who make extraordinary items by hand, and getting a behind-the-scenes look at their handiwork as well as the process of conception and design. In the episode airing April 5, you’ll meet Shawn Carling, the maker behind machineagelamps.com, in Farmington, who makes lamps and more from salvaged early American tractors, steam gauges, reclaimed wood, airplane parts, repurposed motorcycle parts, and just about any other piece of machine-age industrial detritus you can name.
You may have see his work at The Uptown Art Fair, The Edina Art Fair, and other venues around town, including Southern Lights, but in this episode you’ll learn his story of serendipity, need, and inventiveness. He’d always been a tinkerer, but at Christmas a couple years ago, he decided to build a unique gift for his father: a lamp made of old tractor parts that would remind his father of his childhood farm days. His father loved it, and soon others were requesting similar light fixtures. Since then, Carling, a onetime corporate marketing manager, has made and sold hundreds of lamps.
Each handcrafted creation is one-of-a-kind, signed and numbered by Carling. As demand for his work has grown, he’s added wall sconces, floor lamps, and tables—all made from found and repurposed machines. See his workshop and learn more about his process more about him and other makers on “Handcrafted America.” Check your local listings at insp.com.
By Chris Lee
Photos via Machine Age Design