The father and son team of Tom and Ben Kleinfelter brainstormed the idea of designing and fabricating hip, stainless steel outdoor furniture and fountains in their Leelanau County workshop. But it was Kim Kleinfelter (wife and mother, respectively) who topped off the concept with a very cool, very green idea: recasting local wine bottles into the glass tabletops and fountain bowls. “She was the inspiration,” says Tom.
Local wineries were more than happy to contribute their more-than-abundant supply of used bottles. In four months, for example, Tom amassed enough bottles from the winery at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay to last him a couple of years. Because different types of wine bottles have different chemical compositions, Tom uses only one wine vintage per piece of furniture. The end result is that the tabletop for the Deco Style Garden Seating Set is made entirely out of bottles from Black Star Farms 2004 Chardonnay; the bowl in their Grape Leaf Bird Bath is a Black Star Farms 2005 Pinot Noir.
Although each finished tabletop incorporates about 15 bottles, Tom goes through many more times that number before the finished product come out of his kiln. The reason? Container glass, in contrast to art glass, Kleinfelter says, is extremely difficult to work with. The end result, however, is a stunning sheet of glass with individual imperfections such bubbles and facets. “Sometimes you can still make out the punt [the indented bottom of the bottle],” Tom says.
Besides their own designs the Kleinfelters take custom orders. Currently, for example, they are working on a bistro set for a woman who wants to see her passion for L. Mawby wines reflected in her patio table.
Contact the Kleinfelters at leelanaugardenfurniture.com.