Story and photos by Charles Chandler
The SWK series aimed at offering up local gifting opportunities has always welcomed contributions from the eclectic assembly of correspondents whose work N3 has been privileged to post. Today we hear from our avid angler,Texas transplant,mayoral maven, and collegial compeer Charles Chandler.
When I walked into the MB Woodworks home of fine woodworking, leather and original art located at 77 State Road in downtown Newaygo I was warmly greeted by big bearded Mike Borkowski co-owner and artist. He was sitting behind the counter holding a sleeping child in his arms looking just like Papa Berenstain Bear. As I glanced around the shop it was like at first sight, big windows up front, high vaulted ceiling, kinda like a big ole airplane, or dinner. The shopping space is long with floors laid in that beautiful old fashion narrow hard maple that takes your eyes from the front door all the way through this cozy inviting shop.
Roxanne Middleton the other very talented co-owner was with some customers but soon joined Mike to give me the cook’s tour. Dear Christmas shoppers you must visit this shop, they have the most wonderful stuff, O my goodness do they ever have incredible stuff. They have a huge inventory and endless variety of original pieces that are handmade by about a dozen local artist and craftsman. Items of every imaginable shape, size, color, texture and material including dramatic photographs and paintings by award winning artist, whimsical craft pieces, castings, and bronzes, all thoughtfully displayed to invite the touch or question. My Mom was the family quilter so I was especially taken with Patti Guzniczak’s colorful and detailed quilted pieces.
If you are looking for that one of a kind original then Mike’s striking wood creations are for you. These are not your rustic cabin items but finely crafted works of art the kind that you would see in Woodworking and Architectural magazines. Some are abstract in that the design of the pieces focuses on and follows the natural character and beauty of the wood. His tables were my favorite, beautiful, unique, functional and affordable. Their prices will work for any wallet so you can happily choose a $3.00 stocking stuffer or a $3,000 piece that folks will gather around and talk about long after the holiday season is over.
Mike and Roxanne both mentioned that if you can’t find that special item in their store they will custom make it for you. When I mentioned I was a fisherman Roxanne proudly showed me some such examples of her fine customer leatherwork. They were elegant old fashioned leather and wool leader and streamer (flies) wallets. She had produced some for the Orvis outfitters up the road on the Pere Marquette River. This well known character gives them to his clients that he takes on fishing trips to Phyllis and Jim Johnsons Blue Bonefish lodge in Belize and to their Katmai Trophy Lodge near King Salmon Alaska. I do hope someone in my life reads this article and takes the hint.
Folks, this shop is where you buy gifts for your favorite family members, dear friends or others that you are very serious about getting serious about. The holiday gifts and items that you choose in MB Woodworks and Company are those that will become family treasures, collectables and antiques. My suggestion is to have coffee, hot chocolate or lunch in one of the local restaurants and then spend some quality shopping time with Mike and Roxanne. Be sure to ask plenty of questions because every item has a story.
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