Homefront: Steeling Beauty
Bittersweet, wisteria and thick trumpet vines surround the rustic homemade gazebo that New Hope furniture maker Fred Odell calls his showroom. Inside, four kinds of English Regency-inspired chairs are pulled up to a glass-topped table with curvy legs and Art Deco overtones. With its powder-coated finish, smooth curves and hand-forged penny feet, the garden set looks brand-new. It’s not. It’s more than 10 years old, and has spent its entire life outdoors.
A resident of Bucks County’s pastoral hills for 25 years, Odell and his work are all about rugged durability and style. More than 25 years ago, his brother, a horseshoer, showed him how to make woodstove tools. Today, Odell makes a line of steel indoor-outdoor furnishings that includes a table, four styles of chairs (available as benches or rockers), a trellis, a plant stand and a sturdy stool.
Painstaking hammer-and-anvil work gives each piece its organic fluidity, and mild steel rivets make each chair flexible and long-lasting. They are coated in a powder-polymer paint commissioned from a Hatfield workshop.
Odell is characteristically taciturn about these details. He shows his work only at regional arts fairs — such as Tyler in Richboro — and at the Philadelphia Flower Show. He has no delivery company. No website. Just him. And an old-fashioned lifetime guarantee. After all, he says, “I feel like I’m making something that will last a long time.”
Fred Odell, New Hope, 215-794-8967.