Fridays at 8:30p ET

Metal Handbags, Razors, Neon Signs

Friday, February 2nd at 8:30p ET

Host Jill Wagner travels the country on a quest to find talented craftsmen who still make incredible items by hand. Wendy Stevens was told that her idea for making purses from stainless steel was impossible. Yet today, outside of Boyertown, Pennsylvania, she is creating a line of coveted metal purses. In Baltimore, Maryland, Dan Janssen is turning exotic woods and semi-precious gemstones into heirloom quality razors. Last stop, Las Vegas, where Jill learns from Paul Macias how he and his family have been lighting up the city by turning colored glass tubes into classic neon signs for decades.

 


Wendy Stevens 

Boyertown, PA Metal Purses | Website

Wendy Stevens never went to art school, nor did it ever cross her mind to pursue a design career. In fact, she had no idea she even had the talent, vision or ability to create works of functional art. After leaving her career in bi-lingual education in San Francisco, she needed a fresh start, to “find herself,” so to speak. She had friends who were painters, actors, performers in New York, and she settled in among the art crowd.

Every day, she would commute to her job on the subway, walk the streets of Manhattan, enthralled by the vibe and the sights. A theme began to emerge. Everywhere she looked, she saw metal—in the subway stations, on phone booths, discarded sheet metal on the sidewalks of The Bowery and on Canal Street. Around the same time, Wendy started noticing the bags, purses, satchels people carried on the train, and the vision started to form, a meld of metal and fashion.

All of Wendy’s handbags, from clutches to satchels to totes, are handmade from stainless steel with leather and metal components in her production studio outside of Philadelphia.


Dan Janssen – Imperium Woodcraft 

Ellicott City, MD | Razors | Website

In years past, shaving was a ritual where men drew sharp straight-edge razors across lathered cheeks. The razor handles themselves were works of art that graced the washstand alongside a fine, hand-turned brush.

An experienced woodworker with an eye for the elegant, Dan Janssen was tired of seeing his unattractive, disposable plastic, double-edged razor at his sink in the morning. After searching for a more stylish razor, he discovered his taste and his budget were not aligned. So he put his skills to work. His first razor was 24-carat gold-plated, and made with rosewood. He showed it to friends, who were impressed with its beauty, workmanship and functionality. He made razors for them. They, in turn, wanted razors to give to other friends, and Imperium Woodcraft came into being. Dan started as a hobby, selling his razors online, while still holding down a full-time job. In 2014, he took a leap of faith, quit his office job, and opened a shop, which he runs with his wife and part-time staff.

All of his razors are handmade in the USA of sustainable hardwoods. He and his staff turn the handles from raw wood, sand and coat each piece with a crystal acrylic then polish it to a slick shine. The finished product is a classic work of art, yet long-lasting, water-resistant, and fits today’s most popular razor cartridges.


Paul Macias – Paul’s Neon Signs

Las Vegas, NV | Neon Signs | Website

In a city known for its sparkle, glitz and flashing lights, Paul Macias turns up the wattage with his neon creations. It all started in 1985, when his parents, Mexican immigrants, Ina and Juan Macias, having learned to bend glass working at the signage company, Everbrite, branched out on their own. The small, family business grew steadily.

Today, the company is still family-run, with oldest son, Paul at the helm. Paul grew up in the business, and now he keeps the complex process of creating innovative, fun, dazzling neon art alive. Part science, part art, producing a neon sign requires skill and vision.

The company specializes in custom signs, and they also do repairs and restoration. Their signs can be seen inviting customers to enjoy a meal, gracing the windows or facades of a variety of businesses, at trade shows, as art in customers’ homes, among other places, where an eye-catching, colorful display is needed to light up the space.

Paul has also created custom neon designs for TV commercials, movies and music videos. This family business is now one of the largest neon manufacturers in Las Vegas.

 

 


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