Games from Peachtree City–based Venture Shuffleboard are so elegant and carefully made they could double as dining room furniture—and often do. Crafted from cherry, mahogany, oak, and poplar, the locally crafted shuffleboard, ping-pong, and foosball tables are seriously fine furniture—so much so that they will soon star in an episode of INSP’s Handcrafted America.
Recently, we checked in as the network’s film crew captured host Jill Wagner helping construct a shuffleboard table in Venture’s cavernous warehouse. Her cordless screwdriver slipped just a tad—“Oops, a little more character there, sorry,” she said with a grimace.
The show taped at three locations in the metro area: Venture; First Mountain Woodcraft, a Ball Ground firm that creates canoes and kayaks; and Pak-it-Light, a hammock maker in Woodstock. The Georgia segments will be featured during the show’s third season, which premieres Friday at 8:30 p.m. INSP, which is known for running vintage family-friendly programs like Matlock and Little House on the Prairie, has recently begun producing original series.
Wagner’s previous credits include regular roles on TV shows Wipeout, Teen Wolf, and Punk’d—not to mention her role in horror film Splinter and a stint as spokeswoman for Lincoln Mercury. So how did she end up traveling the nation, including Hawaii and Alaska, interviewing the country’s best artisans?
“This project came across my desk, and it stopped me in my tracks,” she says. “Granted, I’m not a craftsperson. I am not very good with my hands. But I really have an appreciation for people who can do this, for true artisans.”
The show has featured artisans making stained glass, copper pots, brooms, cowboy hats, guitars, and other crafts; and Wagner has tried her hand at every one. “I’ve been known to break equipment,” she concedes. “Once I broke a silversmith’s 100-year-old leather strap. I wanted to dig a hole and bury myself in it.”
However, Wagner stresses that Handcrafted is not a “how-to” show. She just wants to celebrate artisans preserving America’s heritage. “They’re humble people, genuine and smart,” says Wagner. “They’re the people you want to have at your dinner table.”