Artisan Fran Antczak built his first piece of furniture in 1976, but it wasn’t until many years later that his life would come full-circle with a passion for his craft and a way to pursue this while protecting the environment.
After spending 30 years operating a successful antique business, in 2005 the difficult economy caused him to journey in a new direction. Fran’s passion was renewed when he realized that his desire was to create furniture rather than identify and acquire it. So together with his wife Paula, in 2007 he began a new enterprise, Island Sea Designs, a facility for custom-built furniture located in a 19th century paint factory and yard in Brunswick, GA.
Their purpose was to build an American business using raw American products, American tools and all made in the USA. Using handcrafting techniques and “old-time” tools (many from his grandfather), Fran designs and builds unique one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. Anything that can be done by hand is done by hand, including hand-rubbed finishes.
Fran’s grasp and appreciation for old-world woodworking techniques is paralleled only by his profound respect for the environment. He searches out wood that is not commercially viable and transforms it into works of art. Essentially, Fran repurposes wood and other materials that would otherwise have gone to waste and uses them to create beautiful, useful pieces.
Fran’s fascination with abandoned wood is nothing short of amazing. His search for reclaimed wood is centered primarily in the area of St. Simon’s Island, GA, with much of it coming from extremely old felled trees, some more than 400-years old. He has extracted 100-year old wood from the bottom of rivers and salvaged beams and columns from old buildings built around the turn of the last century. His most recent find is a 500-year old sunken Georgia Cypress which he recovered from the Altamaha River.
Each tree has its own story, character and natural beauty. In his 80,000 square-foot facility these trees are cut down into 2” thick slabs that are naturally dried for a minimum of two years. When ready, this wood is then transformed into lumber for flooring, countertops, furniture and virtually anything imagined. And since everything is custom-designed and individually manufactured, size, texture, color and finish can all be specified to the customer’s unique wishes to achieve a truly custom product.
Shown here is just a sampling of the many custom pieces Fran has created. There are benches, tables, staircases, railings, flooring, countertops and more, all available in many different types of wood, finished according to individual preference. To see more of Fran’s work and obtain pricing, go to islandseadesigns.com.