We had an incredibly exciting March 31st at our Woodbridge shop. At 10:00 am, two buses arrived in our parking lot, stuffed to the brim with first graders. At first sight, the buses were quite intimidating and I almost began looking for a table to hide under. I (luckily) regained my composure and greeted the newcomers, all 80 of them. This crowd came about after we received a call about a month ago from Dale City Elementary School. They were interested in getting a tour of our Woodshop for all 80 of their first graders. My first reaction, echoed by many others, was ‘eighty?!’. However, once everyone got over their initial shock, we were all buzzing with excitement and ideas. We’ve given large tours before, but as far as I know, never to 80 first graders, so it was just as much of a new experience for us as it was for the kids.
I was speechless when I saw the two buses pull into the lot, but somehow managed to introduce myself and get them all into the showroom. In my flustered state, I was unable to take a picture of all of the children filing off of the bus, but I did snap a few of the hectic day! Check them out below and let us know what you think.
I asked them what they thought our Library Wall Bed was and I received the answer ‘it’s a shelf, DUH.’ It was only when I pulled the bed down did the ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s start. The reaction to our Glasgow TV Lift was one of pure earsplitting joy, which is something the first graders and I have in common.
A few of the questions that Emily and I faced:
“Where do you get your wood?”
“Why do you make everything out of wood?”
“Are your lamps made out of wood?”
“How much does that cost?”
“How much does the entire company cost?”
“How did you become a craftsman?” (I’m proud to say that several of the children want to become craftsman when they grow up!)
“Can I buy that for a dollar?”
“How much does the world cost?”
“Is the world made of wood?”
It’s safe to say that these kids were very curious and did pose some very good questions!
We all had too much fun giving these tours! We thoroughly enjoyed Dale City Elementary School’s visit and hope that we get to see them in the future (maybe as craftsmen themselves!) Always keep in mind that we offer free tours, even to large groups such as this. We benefit from it just as much, if not more, than you will. If you’re interested in receiving a tour, email me at email@example.com or come into our Woodbridge Shop and we will have one of our talented craftsmen show you around!
Some customers come to our showrooms looking to ‘stump’ us (pardon my pun) with this question. You expect us to give a general answer that tells you nothing and that’s when you can really start to nail us to the wall. It’s a completely reasonable suspicion. I probably would have the same thought process if Hardwood Artisans wasn’t such a big part of my life. I’ve used our furniture since I was a baby, quite literally. My father is John Hillgren and he met my mom, Jennifer, through the company itself. My mom worked in the office as an accountant. One day, my dad walked up to her (with his bobbing afro, mind you) and said ‘I’m sorry, but I need you to come to my office, you’re distracting all of the craftsmen’. Just as my parents met through the company, so did my aunt and uncle. Not to mention both my Aunt Denny and my Uncle Steven work with the company as well. I’m definitely not far from the truth when I say that my entire family has been a part of Hardwood Artisans.
About every employee here has known me since I was in diapers. I’ve been proud of Hardwood Artisans since the get-go, often bragging to my elementary school friends that my father owned a furniture business. My siblings and I used to run around the floor of the shop gathering up scrap wood and gluing the scrap together into miniature furniture so our Barbie dolls could enjoy hardwood furniture as well. I knew that the company made wood furniture, but I never knew where it came from or how we acquire it. I’m well versed on the company, but I never knew the whole story of our wood until I sat down with Mark Gatterdam, Greg Gloor, Kevin Carlson, and John Buss.
So once again, where does our wood come from? To begin, let’s first answer the question that you’re really thinking. “Do you clear-cut forests for your own pleasure and benefit?” The answer is incredibly simple; No. All four of these men had a different way of informing me of this, but it just comes down to the fact that we do not clear cut or burn down forests for our furniture, nor do we work with companies who do. Our goal in this business is not to get involved in a dishonest market; it’s to provide people with long-lasting furniture in a sustainable way. The companies we work with don’t just cut down trees for lumber – they also have regeneration programs put in place. They replant trees, so their resources aren’t consistently being depleted. I didn’t know about regeneration programs before this, and that really caught my attention. It’s good to know that our furniture is not only sustainable in its longevity but the wood we procure is constantly being replanted.
It’s funny to me that this question consistently comes up. Not because it’s surprising – heck, clear cutting forests is part of the United States’ history and heritage. Trees were in the way of railroads, farms, roads, houses. Everything, it seemed, was more important than trees, so they were burned and clear-cut until a civilization was created. I understand that forestry is a big part of our world, and that the worries over our trees are significant. However, both Mark and Greg assured me that there is several times the volume of trees in the United States than there was hundreds of years ago. What makes me laugh is the fact that we’ve advertised that we’re a local business and that our furniture lasts a lifetime, but most people don’t know anything about where our wood comes from or just how sustainable the company is. When I’m asked to describe Hardwood Artisans, the first things that come to mind is long lasting furniture and the craftsmen’s passion, not where we get our wood from.
For starters, most of our wood comes from the East Coast. As many of you may know (and probably have experienced), the climate throughout the United States differs from coast to coast. For example, if you were to come to the Washington, DC area in the middle of July, you can expect 100% humidity… yet it won’t be raining (this we experienced at last year’s Lemonade Social). The woods we get are primarily northeastern run, which means they are already acclimated to the East coast climate. If you were to bring wood over from Hawaii to here, let’s say Choya wood, there’s a possibility it could respond oddly to the climate adjustment. If you’re worried about your Mahogany or exotic wood piece, don’t be. We get our Mahogany from Belize currently, but it’s a stable wood, and therefore not wholly affected by switching climates. The advantage of getting our wood from this area is the fact that we know the climate, we know how the wood reacts, and the wood is used to the moisture content and temperature.
We’re always up for working with exotic wood, but we’re always careful to make sure the piece can expand and contract safely.
More details on the location of our lumber – our Cherry wood comes from Pennsylvania and New York. Our Birch, Maple, and Oak timber comes from New York. Walnut is from Kentucky and Indiana, and Ash comes from just about everywhere. Mahogany is the only wood that we import from South America. It’s certified under the FSC and is also listed under the CITES, which means it can’t be imported unless the proper forms and pedigree are filled out first.
Another question you may be wondering is why don’t we certify all of our wood? We used to – Larry Spinks (one of the founders of Hardwood Artisans) was actually on the FSC board. The FSC is the forest Stewardship Council. It’s a nonprofit organization that supports the proper management of the world’s forests. They’re generally involved in certification of forests and lumber. Certified wood, however, costs about 15% more. This may seem like an unjustified excuse, but that 15% counter into the price of our furniture. While all of the owners would like to be FSC certified, at the moment we can’t rationalize it, especially when our lumber companies are already doing their best. The price hike is mostly due to the fact that the lumber companies are required to go through the certification process – which is basically lots of paperwork and additional work. Especially when most of the places we get our wood from are already working as though they were FSC certified and a lot of our wood already comes from FSC certified state forests.
So, now that you know that our wood practically comes from your backyard. You know the clean truths about our hardwood furniture; do you still want to nail us to the stump? If you have any more questions, feel free to comment on this blog or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by – Lorelei Hillgren, Hardwood Artisans Marketing Coordinator.
The third and final installment of our Photo Contest results contains several of our favorites. Enjoy!
This custom built-in window bench looks great in this room and made most of us want to pick up a book and settle in.
I can’t decide what looks better – the ship or the Hall Table underneath it!
Can you just say ‘aww’? This adorable dog makes this dining table look absolutely adorable.
Nicole has a great dining room set! And great photography skills – she was one of our Honorable Mentions.
This Waterfall bed fits in perfectly with the feel of the oriental decor in this bedroom.
This photo shows off the dovetail joinery of our drawers and the gorgeous cut of our wood… but it’s hard to look beyond the cute cat. Nick doesn’t need to get a cat bed – it looks perfectly happy in our Craftsman chest.
Thank you for looking at the results and entering the contest! We all enjoyed it. Keep an eye out for more blogs in the future – especially for one on our Cutting Edge event for those of you who can’t make it down for the festivities.
Here’s the second installment in our Photo Contest results posts. We hope you enjoyed the last photos and the following ones as much as we did. We’d appreciate your feedback, along with any suggestions for the future. Would you participate in this event again?
Enjoy the photographs!
Penny got her stereo cabinet just in time for the Holidays! It’s great to see that she put it to good use.
The wood on this dining table is absolutely stunning!
This photograph of John’s cheese board is making me wish it was the Holidays all over again!
Our Loft Beds are great for a child of any age and the Toy Story figurines are the perfect subject of this photograph.
Judy’s set of photographs had all of us wishing that we were kids again so we could play in this great family room. Her built-in bookcases add to the flow of the room.
The Glasgow Equipment console looks absolutely gorgeous in any situation, especially next to this stone fireplace.
This completely custom desk would make a great office for anyone!
Keep an eye out for the last Photo Contest results in the next week or so! in the meantime, we’re working on new events and activities. We are excited to see you all in the next few months.
When Hardwood Artisans came up with the idea of throwing a Photo Contest, everyone was beyond excited. However, we didn’t expect the great response that we got. For weeks on end, everyone had fun admiring the photographs. We all swelled with pride when we saw what great set ups you all have. Some of the dogs and cats included even caused our office people to have fits of giggles and admiration.
These photos are just too good to keep to ourselves! We want everyone to see just how talented our customers are. Plus, doesn’t everyone want a little ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ in their life? We are splitting up the results into three posts, just to be sure we don’t overwhelm you with the talent of our customers.
Here are some of the submissions for you to enjoy.
Looking beyond the cute dog, this living room is very attractive and that isn’t my Hardwood Artisans bias speaking. David knew exactly what he was doing when he placed his two Parlor chairs, Parlor sofa and Highland rocking chair in the same room!
- This Classic Hampton dining table is no longer available, but the standard
- style is. Either way, Doug and Maryellen have one stunning dining room.
Getting work done while sitting at this desk must be a cinch. Entirely custom from the knobs to the desk shape, Mark Gatterdam had a lot of fun collaborating with the customer when it came to creating this office.
This bedroom is so cheerful and the Waterfall bed looks right at home!
Leesa’s Woodley Loveseat futon was one of the first submissions to our contest! It looks like this is more the cat, Kefira’s, chair than Leesa’s, however.
Heather had her dining room set custom designed – as you can see, that was a great choice!
If you have any questions about the above photos or want to look into purchasing one for yourself, contact one of our showrooms! We do everything possible to keep our customers happy, but unfortunately, the cute animals are not offered with our collections. The next installment of posts will be up within three days, so keep an eye out for it!
Audra was tentative when she walked into the Hardwood Artisans store in Fairfax, Virginia. She knew she had a somewhat unusual problem. You see, she was the owner of two turtles and lived in a limited space apartment in Reston, Virginia. She needed an attractive and functional way to house these pets and wasn’t sure she would be taken seriously.
Luckily, she ran into Greg Gloor, the person who started Hardwood Artisans 35 years ago. And equally lucky for her, he had also kept turtles (and an iguana, and a corn snake) as pets. He knew he could design and build exactly what she needed.
Hardwood Artisans has been building superior hardwood furniture by hand since its creation in 1976 and now employs 75 people. They build furniture, kitchens, and much more their woodshop in Woodbridge, Virginia and invite each customer to come in and see how their piece being made. Customers come to Hardwood Artisans with problems of space and design hoping for a solution. Greg Gloor has become a professional at creating a solution for just about any problem.
“I never know what piece of my past I will need to call on to help solve a customer’s problem,” said Greg. “I try to approach each new customer with a blank slate and actually listen for what’s needed and wanted. I try to see it from their point of view, and put together something that works for them.”
Greg wanted to be sure the turtles could be easily played with and their cages could easily be cleaned. He and craftsman Kevin Parker designed a special system so that the turtles home could be pulled out and the front of the drawer could come off.
This “care for the customer” approach has been the hallmark of this unique local custom furniture manufacturer. Purchasing made-to-order furniture could be intimidating unless the people you are working with are really on your side.
“This was not our standard turtle credenza,” laughed Kevin Parker, the craftsman assigned to build the piece. “Greg had gotten the project pretty far along. He handed it off to me and made sure I had the general idea; then he left the details up to my judgment. I really appreciate this level of freedom and confidence.” Kevin is certainly someone who could be trusted with the job. He has been a master craftsman at Hardwood Artisans for 15 years and is also an avid naturalist and bird watcher. He does volunteer work and guided tours for the Prince William Conservation Alliance. Kevin knows woodworking and turtles.
“I LOVE IT!!” gushed Audra to Ricardo Berrum, one of the current owners. “Please thank everyone for me. It is absolutely amazing. The sliding drawers and the removable doors were GENIUS! This was a breeze to set up and the pets settled right in.
I can’t say enough about how great this cabinet turned out, it was 100% what I wanted plus tons that I didn’t even know I could have.”
One of the things we’re most proud of here at Hardwood Artisans is our talented craftsmen. They all feature an amazing capability for creativity, which is first and foremost shown in our line of products, but also in the magnificent accessories that we carry. Many accessories can be dwarfed when they’re near gorgeous pieces like our Waterfall Grand Mesa. However, our jewelry boxes and Suzy cubes hold their own, even when placed next to the most attractive furniture. These accessories are magnificent, not only with the beauty they exude but with the creativity that was put into them in the first place. They are the perfect gift for birthdays and the Holidays, and say something only a hand-crafted item could voice. So, instead of highlighting our wonderful selection of furniture, let’s shine the spotlight on these small, but gorgeous, accessories.
One of our most treasured and recognized accessories are our Hillgren Jewelry boxes. Crafted by John Hillgren, one of our owners, in the early days of Hardwood Artisans, these stunning little gems are crafted of mainly scrap wood. Don’t let that fool you, lined with your choice of red, blue, or green velvet, these pieces might outshine the jewelry you place in them. Hillgren created the jewelry box after becoming frustrated with the amount of scrap wood going to waste. Nowadays, most, if not all of our scrap wood is used in the manufacturing of our accessories.
Not only is the wood cut in curved lines and traditional corners, but it features a mirror on the inside of the lid. One of our craftsmen even went as far as to have the top burned with romanticisms to give to his girlfriend. You can’t go wrong in giving this as a present, to someone else or to yourself.
That isn’t the only jewelry box we carry, however. Hardwood Artisans features two other boxes; Pepe’s Jewelry box and our Jewelry caddies. The Jewelry caddies showcase two or three drawers, each of which is velvet lined. They fit in perfect on top of any dresser or chest and make organization easy with the optimization of space.
Pepe’s box is a little smaller, but equally entertaining to look at. This is just one more piece that’s fashioned out of scrap wood. The inside is lined with velvet like Hillgren’s jewelry box, but instead of having an indent in the top, it lays flatter and doesn’t have any legs. Either way, I think you have a hard choice ahead of you if you plan to pick between these three!
If you’re looking for something small and practical to gift wrap, maybe instead you should consider our Suzy Cubes. These pieces, while not only being practical, are fun little cubes to give out. You can use them as chairs, stack them as bookcases, and place them as room dividers, anything your imagination can cook up. And if that isn’t wild enough for you, maybe you should consider snagging a couple of our striped Suzy cubes. If you don’t get them, I definitely will!
If you’ve been into any of our showrooms, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ve seen our Plant Stands. Ranging from square to round, tall to short, these sustainable products were crafted with you in mind. You can use them as an end table or something to place your cactus on. The sharp curves of the legs will undoubtedly attract the eyes of your guests.
One of the cutest items on our in-stock list are Greg’s Stools. These cute little stools are perfect for any little ones you have running around. You can use them for seating or a step stool to reach the sink, but either way there’s no way anyone can pass by these little stools without admiring the handiwork.
If you’re looking for a more practical gift, maybe you should think about our Fold Up tables. With the Holidays just around the corner, these tables will come in handy when you need a little extra dining room. With a swift spin of the legs, this table can be pushed up against the wall to make room for any dancing and games you have in mind.
Last but not least, let’s consider our Cheval mirror. This tall standing mirror can rotate back and forth, adjusting to the height of whoever wants to use it. It’s a very attractive accent to any bedroom, modern or traditional. These pieces are always in-stock, so they’re a quick go to if you’re running out of time.
So, maybe you’re running a little late on your Holiday shopping or maybe you’ve never even thought of Hardwood Artisan’s as the perfect place to go for accessories. Either way, if you’re interested in any of these pieces, they’re available at all of our showrooms. Not only that, but there are several other accessories you can consider that aren’t featured on this list. This way you can enjoy the snow, festivities, and gorgeous accessories of the Holidays!
Here at Hardwood Artisans, we are always so excited about the local artists who display their artwork in our showrooms. From woodturners to painters, they all possess amazing skills. The latest addition to our showrooms is a wonderful potter, Hadrian Mendoza. Hadrian works out of the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center along with many of the artists who display their works in our showrooms.
Hadrian definitely has a way with manipulating the clay, turning it into fascinating bowls, trays, teapots and vases. Of my favorite pieces are his round vases with square twisted necks such as the one below.
Hadrian graduated from the Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA. In 1994, at the age of 22, Hadrian took an elective course in college, and since then has had a passion for making pottery. Originally from the Philippines, he went back in 1997 to rediscover his roots and learn about the craft along with the different techniques of pottery making in his homeland. He came back to Virginia in late 2009 and since then has been working in his studio at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA.
Hadrian is inspired by the environment that surrounds him, whether it be near or far. You will also find a lot of southeast Asian influence in his works, and in the simplicity of his forms, such as this stunning teapot set below:
Hadrian starts by kneading the clay to warm it up and to get rid of the air bubbles. He then bisque fires the piece, a process which is important to potters if they want to use more decorative stains and glazes without risking damage or cracking of the pottery. Below is a picture of Hadrian shaping the clay to make a tray:
He then adds his glaze and fires the piece again in temperatures as high as 1300 C (2372 F). He will sometimes add a little salt to create more movement in the glaze. After the kiln has cooled, he opens it and the process starts all over again. The end result, is a magnificent piece of artwork such as this beautifully glazed bowl:
Hadrian is currently on the hunt for wood firing kilns in Virginia. “As a potter”, he says, “the most important thing for me is the clay and the kiln. Without clay, [you] can’t make anything. Without a good kiln, the pieces can’t be finished the proper way.” He is constantly on a journey, learning new things about the pottery-making scene locally and nationally, always appreciative of new challenges.
Hadrian’s beautiful pottery is on display at our Fairfax and Alexandria showrooms. You can also see more of his artwork at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center or click here to be directed to his website.
Old paintings made new, or more like new paintings made old. Suzanne Clifford-Clark is a local painter who is inspired to do just that; bring that antique feeling into her works of art. Her motivation comes from traditional paintings and she uses the same age-old methods and tools to create art that will give you a feeling of nostalgia.
Suzanne has loved art since she was a child, and quickly became enthused in creating her own works. With a family that frequently moved, Suzanne took up the portable habit of drawing and it quickly became an activity that she enjoyed. Soon drawing escalated to painting, and a wonderful relationship was shaped.
We’re proud to showcase 16 of Suzanne’s paintings in our showrooms, all of which are available for sale. Suzanne is a noted equestrian artist, inspired by the gracefulness and muscles of a horse’s large form. When she paints horses, Suzanne tries to portray the individuality of these animals. She doesn’t remember exactly when she first painted a horse, but she is continually trying to improve by not only studying photographs of them, but also by spending time with her own horse. She studies their hair growth, the way their bodies move, even the personalities that many of them convey.
Suzanne enjoys working with paint; from the way you can apply it to a canvas with broad strokes and thick lines or loosely and light. She’s inspired by colors, the ever changing way you can mix two colors to make another, the different tones and brightness. However, despite the obvious love expressed for such art, painting is a skill that Suzanne sometimes has a love/hate relationship with. When you have such endless possibilities, she does occasionally find herself frustrated with the inability to find that perfect color effect, the details she’s looking for, or even the tone of the piece itself. Painting never leaves her bored, but it does require a couple steps back to reevaluate the art being expressed.
To create such a beautiful piece, Suzanne starts by stretching a fabric over stretcher bars and tightly securing it. She then paints the first layer of her painting, a layer that is called imprimatura. This layer consists of a single color that covers the whole surface, therefore making it easier to estimate the value of a stroke on a solid background.
The next step is emphasizing the subject of her piece with either charcoal or thinned paint. Suzanne has to wait for this layer to dry before continuing onto the next layer, which is painting from the general to the specific. This layer usually consists of two or three layers, both of which have to dry before she continues on. This step is when the details begin to form.
Suzanne’s work is a slow and deliberate process, which pulls from years of painting and centuries of tradition. She has accomplished the goal of creating the traditional and now has several paintings to prove such skill. If you want to see her beautiful paintings or contact Suzanne, you can visit her website or you can visit our Rockville, Alexandria, or Fairfax showrooms to see these gorgeous works in person!
Have you seen the art glass in some of our furniture? Those beautiful creations were made by our skilled Edwin Moncada, who is also a craftsman, sales person, webmaster, and my dad! He designed and crafted this piece:
Back in 2005, when he first began working for Hardwood Artisans, he started with sanding pieces, making cabinets, and enjoyed working as a craftsman in our shop; later on, people got to know him better and learned that he had other talents, which let him into working in his career which is Systems Engineering. He turned into our webmaster. Being the company’s webmaster taught him about the 800 products Hardwood Artisans builds, designs and sells. Edwin soon became a valuable salesperson.
His interest in art glass sparked when Greg Gloor, our previous art glass creator, told him that it was time for him to learn something new. He started to show him what he knew about art glass and taught him until he mastered the creation process. The lessons started with stretching lead, cutting and breaking glass, and occasionally getting bloody fingers (tee hee!) Even with the “suffering,” he likes creating the art glass a lot. “I like the fact that you can create new things with feeling towards what you build, which is also applied in furniture making,” my dad says proudly. He has now been making art glass for three and a half years now and shows progress and new ideas with every design.
Here is a design for Greg Gloor’s home:
He makes his art by first sitting with customers and designing a style that would be suitable for their furniture. Then he comes up with the measurements, drawings and the template, and afterwards choosing the glass that best fits the design (“The most difficult part” he said). The fun part starts when he has to put all the pieces together to see if it looks like he planned. Finally, after welding them together with lead, he goes to wash his piece and… It’s ready!
Our customers have been happy and proud of their new furniture, because not only has the design come to life; it also shows a light of its own. At the moment, he is working on doors for kitchen cabinets (pictured below), so keep in touch to see the result!
If you would like to see his creations, or talk to him about a project you can email him: Edwin@hardwoodartisans.com. You can also come to our Woodbridge showroom/woodshop to see my dad in action, or visit one of our other three showrooms to see more of his designs.
Written by Edwin’s daughter: Adriana Moncada, 14