SHY LIGHT CHANDELIER $11,000, becbrittain.com
Our furniture? Made in China. Our cookware? Made in China. Our knickknacks? Made in China. Is there anything left that is still homemade? We went hunting, and it turns out there's plenty that is designed, crafted, and finished right here in the United States of America.
Some of the products, including Estwing hammers and Pendleton blankets, are produced by heritage brands that have been with us for decades and remain paragons of craftsmanship. Others, such as Billykirk's leather bags and Raleigh Denim jeans, come from young designers who have rediscovered and revived the meticulous manufacturing techniques employed by generations past. Still others, like this SHY Light chandelier, live at the aesthetic vanguard, pushing the boundaries of contemporary design. Taken together, these products and the hands that made them paint a rich portrait of homegrown creativity. With their emphasis on intelligent design and quality construction, they make a convincing case that the label Made in the U.S.A. is more meaningful than ever.
PENDLETON WOOLEN MILLS BRAVE STAR BLANKET $218, pendleton-usa.com
Oregon's Pendleton Woolen Mills has been weaving Indian trade blankets--like this Native American interpretation of the American flag--since 1909. "Our primary business used to be selling to Native Americans," says manager Bob Christnacht. "The blankets are still used for ceremonial purposes on reservations."
AT-95 PEG LEG CART $799, at-95.com
"We're trying to start a second American industrial revolution," says Dennis Blankemeyer, who founded the Columbus, Ohio, furniture company AT-95 with his wife, Denise. They make pieces based on discarded items from old factories. AT-95's cast iron comes from Kentucky; the rest of the manufacturing is done in Ohio.
IACOLI & MCALLISTER STEPLADDER $1,195, iacolimcallister.com
The hand-welded steel frame is nearly bomb-proof, while brass hardware adds a touch of bling. "The pattern language comes from an old 1920s stepladder that my grandfather had in his studio," says Jamie Iacoli, who designed the piece with partner Brian McAllister in Seattle. And the pink oak steps? "We thought the juxtaposition was sexy."
FIELD NOTES BRAND MEMO BOOKS $9.95 for three, fieldnotesbrand.com
"The aesthetic [for Field Notes] comes out of the '20s, '30s, and '40s, when seed companies would give out little notebooks to farmers as promotional items," says Jim Coudal, whose design agency helped start the Chicago-based company. The books are made from American paper, by American printers.
BILLYKIRK NO. 165 MEDIUM CARRYALL $320, billykirk.com
Billykirk makes a handful of products in its own Jersey City, New Jersey, studio; the bulk of manufacturing is done by Amish artisans in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. For this No. 165 Medium Carryall, "our inspiration was vintage tool and doctor bags," says Kirk Bray, who runs the company with brother Chris.
ESTWING RIP HAMMER WITH LEATHER HANDLE $44, estwing.com
When Estwing introduced its signature hammer in 1923, "it was the first all-steel hammer to be forged in one piece," says manufacturing manager Dan Eisman. "Prior to that, everything was head-on- a-stick, where if you broke the handle, the head was gone." Today, the tools are forged and assembled in Rockford, Illinois.
RALEIGH DENIM ORIGINAL RAW THIN FIT JEANS $275, raleighdenim.com
Most U.S. jeans makers get fabric overseas. Raleigh Denim's are custom-made from American-grown cotton by one of Greensboro, North Carolina's few remaining mills. "The old men taught us how to fix the machines, and the old ladies taught us tricks to sew really great jeans," says founder Victor Lytvinenko.
GIBSON U.S.A. LES PAUL TRADITIONAL PREMIUM GUITAR $3,449, gibson.com
Introduced in 1952, the Les Paul was Gibson U.S.A.'s first solid-body electric guitar. The design has been tweaked over the years, but it's still made with a great deal of handwork--from wood selection to cutting and sanding to the glossy sunburst finish--in Nashville.