John of JB Woodcraft texted me as promised. "Your mirror is here already, do you want to check it before we do the finishing?"
Of course I have to see it. I even wanted to see them as they carved it. But this was good enough.
The NLEX highway from Manila to Pampanga is a joy to traverse. It's EDSA which is hell. But anyway there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow highway and I was excited.
We were welcomed into the unassuming compound of JB Woodcraft where they have two showrooms, a number of workshops, a guest house and guest pavilions in expansive grounds.
The workmanship of all the furniture on display is beautiful and elegant. If you use all these curly things together, it becomes too traditional for my taste.
Before going to the workshop to look at the mirror I ordered, I looked around with the hopes of finding a sample of a Victorian chair I've been wanting for a long time now. I'm picky with proportions and I didn't see any that I really liked.
And here is my mirror! Ack! It looks a bit too chunky! I expected something finer, and more feminine.
Perhaps as fine as these easels here.
But as soon as they stood the mirror up, the proportions balanced out.
I like the details. They are expertly carved into the wood of the frame and not attached like embellishments. But it needs to look finer.
This mirror looks Italian rococo I tell John, I want it to look more French. And he agrees. "We'll send it back and tell them to make the carving deeper and finer."
My mirror is against the window on the far end
There's lots of furniture lying around so I go in search of a bergere that catches my eye.
Look at that mirror, just leaning there...ready to be bought!
JB Woodcraft has been exporting since the early 80's. Their biggest clients used to come from the States, Europe and the Middle East. A lot of contracts come directly from big hotels and resorts.
And for companies like And So to Bed from the UK. Orders from the States have dropped dramatically, but orders from Europe are still coming in strong and so are those from the Middle East.
These pink bergeres are for a hotel in the Middle East.
We are now walking through the air-conditioned showroom. Wow, it was hot out there in the workshop!
My eyes are beginning to tire of all these curves and carvings. I must make sure my house doesn't end up looking like a curly showroom too.
This would look beautiful in contemporary fabric.
The other showroom is in this ancestral house, up these stairs.
Well hello again, this time in purple. There is a shoe store chain in Paris that uses a statement chair similar to this in their shops. Look below how that Parisian store incorporates it into a contemporary hip setting.
Shoe shop in the 15th in Paris. The finishing makes the difference.
This one is antiqued and not shiny gold like the ones in JB Woodcraft.
Okay, back to the Philippines, and back to Pampanga.
JB Crafts is run by Alona, daughter of the original founders. Her brothers have branched out into other companies that have different designs. More Than a Chair is run by a brother, and another sibling operates Triboa Bay Living. Each of these brands are also separate companies but offer the same high standard of workmanship.
JB Woodcraft also make contemporary furniture and other designs as specified by their clients.
My pictures are so bad because I only had my iPhone, but I want to show you the quality of their furniture and what they can make.
Out into the expansive garden we go.
They have a guest house here because some clients fly in to visit the factory and they don't like staying in a hotel in the city and traveling here by car. These clients are hosted on the premises.
Remember these sari-sari store jars? You don't see them anymore...because they are all here being used as candle holders!
This is the most massive sungca I've seen yet.
This fun treehouse is for the grandchildren who come over to play.
If my grandmother had a place like this, I'd move in with her.
Remember playground equipment that swings? This is a massive version too.
I was told that the rotary club holds events on the grounds, and they also host dinners prepared by Pampanga's famous chefs.
Back into the work area again, I try look around for other pieces of furniture I like. I take pictures of everything because years later I might discover a table base or a sofa among the junk just by scrutinizing my photos.
I can imagine this bedframe in my room! Nice!
Here is my mirror again. I get excited just passing in front of it.
I looked over all their chair samples, but didn't find one I was looking for.
This below is ready to be delivered. I don't think these factories used to ever make just one piece of something from a client. But now, any business is business!
We've seen all we needed and we can head home, but we are offered Puto pao and pancit. How can we resist gracious Filipino hospitality.
While we were eating, I choose the finish of my mirror.
I think I'll go with something gilt with white, to counter the heaviness of the wood. It's going to take a few more weeks, but I've waited for so long to even decide to order the mirror. What's a couple of more weeks?
I'll make another field trip to Pampanga with enough time to check out the roadside shops.
Here is the visual peg of the mirror being made.
I'm proud of the exquisite workmanship that comes out of the Philippines. It's too bad that exports to some countries have gone down. The only good thing about that is, selfish as it may sound, these companies are now giving equal attention to local clients. Everyone is happy.