Made for Television: Resident's handmade furniture to appear on Cinemax show
A Trumbullite’s creations are going all the way from his home workshop on Madison Avenue to the small screen, on a cable television series starring Clive Owen and directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Jack Schlechtweg is owner and designer at JG Madison, a handmade furniture business he began as a hobby after his retirement from a career in sales. His business has become well-known in the area and recently grabbed the attention of designers for a period television drama.
An assistant set designer for the Cinemax show The Knick found Schlechtweg’s work online and contacted him about making his popular farm tables for a set on the show.
“I made one large farm table and four smaller ones,” Schlechtweg said. “I’ve been told the tables are going to be in three episodes of the second season.”
The Knick is a drama that takes place in New York City in 1900, centered around the Knickerbocker Hospital and the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff who work there, pushing the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics, according to Cinemax. The second season premieres later this year.
“I’ve been told the tables will be used in a prison scene, with a guard sitting at one,” Schlechtweg said.
A period drama is a good fit for the work JG Madison has become known for.“Cottage and country is very popular right now,” Schlechtweg said. “I was doing finer furniture for a while, but cottage and country is what people are looking for.”
Schlechtweg describes cottage and country as a bit “shabby chic” and often appearing to look older than it is, through distressing.
While cable television is nice, he is also a big hit with family, according to Schlechtweg’s son, Jack Schlechtweg III, who also lives in Trumbull.
“My father is known for his high-quality work as well as his ability to create realistic time-period furniture,” his son said. “He began to pursue his lifelong passion of furniture making around the time he retired from his sales career over 15 years ago. His dedication and talent has been admired and sought after by family members and furniture collectors from all over the area, mostly through word of mouth.”
Much of the furniture designer’s Trumbull home is a showroom of sorts for his work. He’s even had someone come in, see his own kitchen table and drive off with it that day.
“They needed a table for Easter dinner and walked out with it that day,” Schlechtweg said. “The only problem is, that left us without a table for Easter.”
His wife, JoAnn, has had to lay down the law on a few pieces she won’t part with.
Schlechtweg said he enjoys a challenge and working at his own pace, depending on deadlines. During the day, he and his wife watch the grandkids.
“I just received an order for a new hutch and I’m pretty excited about making that one,” he said. “It was a hutch they saw on my website that I made years ago and it was one of my favorite pieces.”
For a table, it could take about a week or two for something more complicated.
“I’m a one-man shop,” he said.
He said that he loves the creativity much more than making money, so he is willing to work with people on price.
Schlechtweg said he can’t wait to see the furniture on television, and his wife has already started watching season one in preparation.
To learn more about The Knick, visit cinemax.com/the-knick/. To learn more about Schlechtweg’s furniture, visit JGMadison.com or find him on Facebook.