Founded in 1966 by Danny Krauss, Authentic Designs makes replicas of early American lighting. Michael Krauss and Maria Peragine are the second-generation owners of the company that occupies a restored toothpick factory off the beaten path.
The showroom is hung with terne, brass, and shaped-wood fixtures glittering with electric candlelight. In keeping with the company objective to be as self-contained and domestically sourced as possible, “everything you see is built here,” says Michael.
A talented, close-knit team hand-forms or lathe-turns bases, then applies finishes, inserts concealed electrical wiring, and UL-tests each fixture. Wiring fixtures with skinny arms requires a special knack: the wires must be forced through the bent arms and are almost impossible to thread once passing 360 degrees. “For the most part we make lighting to order because we have so many models and so many finishes,” says Peragine.
Most if not all fixtures on display are based on historic originals—some brought in by clients. Authentic Designs keeps “build” books with exploded drawings of each model they make. Fixtures with wood bodies are produced, from octagonal wood blocks, on a duplicating lathe that exactly follows the contours of the company’s many pattern blanks. While the duplicating lathe is a time saver, Krauss says, “functionally, it is pretty much identical to what a lathe would do in the 19th century.”
Finishes are a mix of alchemy and artistry. Some, like the pewter finish—actually, pewter over brass—will continue to darken with age. Others can be enhanced with verdigris or other treatments. Painted finishes begin with application of paint in a spray booth, followed by brush-painting by hand. The subtle finishes are best seen in person.
West Rupert, Vermont