"Into the Woods -
Fife and Crawford Hubbard put a personal stamp
by Catherine v. O. Hoffberger, STYLE magazine, November/December 2001
Here in this timeless all-American setting, first cousins Fife and Crawford are crafting a name for themselves with gorgeous custom furniture. Their fine hand-turned and finished pieces are the newest heirlooms in some of the area's finest homes.
On the weekday in early September that I visit, Fife, 34, is working out the design details of a cabinet meant to hold a client's TV and stereo equipment. Carved in the elaborate style of a Dutch kast, or chest, it features an exaggerated cornice and geometric-patterned moldings.
On the opposite side of the shop, Crawford, 31, is staining a stunning, Federal-style four-poster bed with intricately carved posts. The styles of these pieces are quite different.
"Our starting point is the styles of the late 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. We some some strict reproductions, but, more often than not, we do interpretations using the language of those different periods."
The Hubbards work with high-end hardwoods like cherry, walnut and maple with interesting grain patterns, "instead of the hugely farmed softwoods, like pine and poplar," says Fife. He buys from a sawyer in New England who purchases lumber from loggers, then saws, dries and refines the wood. "I really enjoy the immediacy of carving," Fife says, "and trying to marry the wood with a particular piece to get the most out of both."
"There is real artistry involved in their work, and meticulous craftsmanship," says Ruxton resident Nancy Roche, who with her husband, George, has purchased five Hubbard pieces this past year, including three four-poster beds and a tiger maple linen press. "It [the linen press] has real presence," says Roche, who has a mahogany and birds-eye maple nightstand on order. "The Hubbards' pieces are made with the soul of an artist. I'm smitten with them."
"Fife and Crawford are true artists," agrees investment manager Dorsey Brown, who has been both a client and a woodworking student of Fife's. "They apply that to the style and design of their pieces, and show a great deal of creativity in their work."
The shop gets plenty of business from word-of-mouth, and there have been considerably more walk-in customers since designer Missy Connolly opened her Fern Hill home furnishings store just across the driveway. A peek at the dry-erase board that logs their jobs shows a long list of names with works in progress.
My husband and I were among the lucky customers on that list last spring. I told Fife what I was looking for in a hunt board: not too big, but not too small; with the look of age, but not overly distressed. Made of cherry wood, with a light, natural stain. Antique hardware, with a drawer to lock away silver.
Fife pulled a book of American furniture from the many books piled on a worktable, pointed out two different pieces, and began to sketch exactly what I had been hoping for. It arrived six weeks later, two weeks sooner than estimated. Fife delivered it personally in that turquoise pickup, with the dusty Newfoundland riding shotgun."
[read full text of article in the November/December 2001 issue of STYLE magazine]