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Trivets: The process behind making a gift for you!

Date added: 09-06-2010

We are excited about our upcoming Lemonade Social and looking forward to seeing all of you there.  We are working hard making a gift to give you at the Lemonade Social.  This year, the owners have designed a special trivet we think you will enjoy.  The best part about the trivet is that it uses up scrap wood which saves wood from being wasted.  The project begins with a can full of scrap wood.  Our scrap wood comes from projects which used larger pieces of wood.  If you look closely enough at this photo you can see pieces of wood that were used to make drawers:

Scrap Wood

There are a lot of tree huggers here at Hardwood Artisans, and we try as hard as we can to reduce waste and energy.  Have you ever seen our striped Suzy Cubes?  They are made of scrap wood as well.

Here is a walk through on how the trivets are made, at the Lemonade Social you can see it happen right in front of you.  You can even take home the one you watched being made!

It all starts with one of our talented craftsmen.  He or she places a piece of scrap wood onto our CNC router.  CNC stands for Computer Numerically Controlled.  You can learn more about them here.  The machine makes cuts into the wood just the right size of the trivet, as well as the holes in the trivet.  Here is an image of one of our craftsmen with the piece of wood.  He will place it onto the orange machine right behind him:

Craftsman picking out the right piece of scrap wood to place on the CNC router behind him

Craftsman picking out the right piece of scrap wood to place on the CNC router behind him

The piece of wood comes out with the proper holes in it, as well as the shape cut out.

When it comes out of the CNC router it looks like this

The craftsman will then bring it over to an area set up with a drill bit.  He will run the drill bit along the edge where the trivet has been cut.  This cuts it free from the rest of the wood and rounds the edges over, making them smooth.  We built a box overtop the drill bit to ensure the proper height for rounding the edges of the trivet, it looks just like this:

Cutting the trivet from the block of wood and rounding the edges

Cutting the trivet from the block of wood and rounding the edges

The trivet will get sanded down and will be ready for you to take home and use!  Join us for the Lemonade Social, Saturday and Sunday June 26th and 27th and see the process for yourself!  We are planning to make about 400 trivets and staying busy doing it!  Here are a few we have already done:

The trivets we have compeleted thus far, only 350 more to go!

The trivets we have completed thus far, only 350 more to go!

For more information about the Lemonade Social click here.  We hope to see you there!

New Artist: Woodturner Patrick O’Brien

Date added: 06-05-2010

At Hardwood Artisans we love local artists.  We have found a very talented woodturner, Patrick O’Brien.  His carefully crafted work of bowls, platters and wine stoppers are currently being shown in our Fairfax showroom.  Including this piece:  

Russian Olive Tall Bowl

Russian Olive Tall Bowl

Patrick is kind enough to be doing a demonstration at our event on June 26th, our 4th Annual Lemonade Social.  He will be doing his demonstration at 11am and 1pm and will have a small lathe with him to show and teach you what he does.  Come on it and see what he can do!  You will also get a chance to see this beautiful piece of his:  

Fluted Sycamore Bowl

This 14″ by 5″ bowl had 36 flutes hand carved with a die grinder with carbide drums and hand finished

Cherry Fluted Bottom

Cherry Fluted Bottom

 

Patrick fell in love with woodturning one summer when he saw the work of Alan Hollar in the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville,North Carolina. He has since studied with Willard Baxter and Bobbie Clemons at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, many others and even the very Alan Hollar whose work inspired himto take up the art of woodturning in the first place.   

In 2003, he began a business called OhBeWood and started selling his work.  In September 2008, he moved to the Lorton Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, Virginia, a new artists’ community with more than 60 studios and several galleries where their works are sold.  A small selection is also available at the new Del Ray gallery, A Show of Hands, at 2301 Mt. Vernon Avenue.  You can view his work in our Fairfax showroom as well as on his website: ohbewood.com.  He welcomes your comments and observations about the pieces featured.

Exotic wood stainless steel wine bottle stoppers with nitrile rings

Exotic wood stainless steel wine bottle stoppers with nitrile rings

Three of his turnings were selected for inclusion in the 2005 and 2008Washington Wood shows.  He has had pieces juried into the March, April, May, July, August, and October 2004 and the March, April, May, and July 2005 Art League of Alexandria shows at the Torpedo Factory.  He is a member of the Washington Woodworkers Guild, Del Ray Artisans, and the Art League of Alexandria.  We hope you can join us to see his demonstration on May 15th in our Fairfax showroom at 2pm. 

Beaded Box Elder 12.5" x 5"

Beaded Box Elder 12.5″ x 5″

 

Patrick’s Artists Statement:

What I love about woodturning is the way the wood reveals itself as I work. Michelangelo is reputed to have said in answer to the question about how he created his famous statue of David from a block of marble, “I just cut away everything that wasn’t David, and there he was.” I imagine it’s debatable whether or not Michelangelo actually said that, and I am certainly not comparing myself to him, but I feel similarly about working with wood. As I ‘turn” a log or block of wood over and over again in my hands I begin to feel what it might become. Then, as I actually begin to turn the wood on my lathe and the grain, the spalting, and the “flaws” of the wood are revealed, I feel as if the soul of the wood is coming out. In all of my work, I try not to get in the way of the spirit of the wood. 

It’s finally here: our Kitchen in Fairfax

Date added: 22-04-2010

We have finished installing our fully working kitchen in Fairfax.  Our showroom staff have been enjoying the opportunity to bake fresh cookies and sit at the bar to relax.  Co-owner Mark Gatterdam tells the story of how and why we went into building kitchens:”In 2001 I needed a kitchen to go into the new home my wife Erika and I were building. I actually went to Home Depot and to get an estimate for a kitchen design. It was $12,000 for just the cabinets, and was not what I actually wanted. They were simply stock cases that didn’t fit the space and left a lot of wasted areas in the design. I felt that I wasn’t being heard by the sales person and it became clear to me that this was not going to work.

I was too busy to build the cabinets myself – I was building a house! I hired Ricardo, then a craftsman and now my partner, to build my kitchen.  I designed it, and he executed it. I was asked my opinion on how I wanted things to look or work, and he would then get that done. I got exactly what I wanted, and it was perfect.”  Here is a picture of it:

Mark's Kitchen

Mark’s Kitchen

And one more:

Mark's Kitchen

Mark’s Kitchen

“We have been building vanities, odd spaces, unusual looks, that sort of thing, but not kitchens. After Greg built his home and subsequently his kitchen using some of the craftsmen in the shop, we decided that doing kitchens was sort of different and fun.

We had always resisted doing them because we felt we could not compete with companies who do it exclusively. The reality is that people are willing to pay a little more to get the service, attention, and product they need. So, here we are launching off on our kitchen cabinet venture. Typical Hardwood Artisans quality and construction. Designed and built to meet your individual wants and needs.”

Greg's Kitchen

Greg’s Kitchen

We have two kitchen designers if you need help designing or visualizing your space.  Any thoughts or questions you have e-mail us at info@hardwoodartisans.com.

Stunning Art – Created by Fire in a Trash Can

Date added: 21-04-2010

Yes, you can light your trash can on fire.  That is if you are creating a piece of Raku pottery.What a fun job!  We love local artists and have three new artists displaying their work in our Fairfax showroom.  One is a Raku potter and sculptor, Stephanie Firestone.  Here is one of her Raku fired pieces title “Triangle Tower.”

Stephanie Firestone's Triangle Tower

Stephanie Firestone’s Triangle Tower

Stephanie grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland and knew art was going to be her destiny from a young age.  She is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.  She uses color and form in a unique way that represents truth and essence.  She has featured her work in many juried shows including Sculpture Now 2006, the annual show of the WSG.  Ocassionally she works with the techniques of Raku pottery and creates stunning pieces.  Including this one:

Stephanie Firestone's Raku Pottery piece, Fossilized

Stephanie Firestone’s Raku Pottery piece, Fossilized

Stephanie will be doing a demonstration on how she makes her own unique pieces at our Local Artists Demonstrations Event on May 15th at 12pm in Fairfax.  She will bring in one of her trash cans and other materials used to fire Raku pottery.  What do you know about Raku Pottery?  Here is a little bit of information that might spark you into starting a new hobby.

Raku is a pottery technique that began in Japan during the 16th century.  Its unique colors mostly come from the techiques used during its firing process.  Here are a few images to help you understand a little bit about the process…

You need a heated piece of pottery:

Pottery being pulled out of the kiln

Pottery being pulled out of the kiln

And a trash can filled with straw or other materials to obtain the effect you want to show on your pottery:

Trash can ready for the pottery to go inside of it

Trash can ready for the pottery to go inside of it

You place the heated pottery into the trash can with straw or other materials and it lights on fire:

Once you place the pottery inside of the trashcan it will light on fire!

Once you place the pottery inside of the trashcan it will light on fire!

Piece of pottery inside of the fire which gives it such unique colors

Piece of pottery inside of the fire which gives it such unique colors

You can learn more about the process of Raku pottery from this video or a further explanation about it from Art Ed.  Perhaps you will love it as much as we do!

Interior Design, Anyone?

Date added: 02-04-2010

Designer Katie Grech finished grad school at the Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, Mich., less than a year ago, and she has something very few of her former classmates have: a job. “I feel really lucky to be here,” Katie says. Those of her friends who do have jobs, she adds, are mostly making copies and doing research; “I’m just kind of lucky to be doing design now.”

Katie built this rocking chair at home last summer.

Katie built this rocking chair at home last summer.

Katie earned an undergraduate degree in interior design, and focused on furniture making in grad school. She came our way through her mother-in-law, who she says had always admired our work (thanks, Mrs. Grech!). Her mother-in-law told her – maybe half joking? – that she should work here after graduating, and sure enough, Katie called Alison, our former marketing director.

We recognized her talent immediately and made space for her. She’s spent the past six months learning about our lines and how they are built, and she’s now our go-to person for interior design when customers ask for the service.

Katie sketched an early version of our Waterfall mirror.

Katie sketched an early version of our Waterfall mirror.

“We started noticing there was a niche for interior design” after a few customers inquired, Katie says. “It just kind of fell into our laps.”

One client, who had bought a house full of furniture from us, asked for help picking fabrics and colors that would coordinate, so Katie spent several hours helping him.

Another client is building a new house and needs help blending his new furniture from Hardwood Artisans with his existing furniture, in addition to choosing paint, windows, and flooring.

Katie’s been able to assist both those clients, and is also working on a kitchen project where the client presented intricately carved panels, and wanted them incorporated into the cabinetry.

Kitchen design- We just installed a kitchen to view in our Fairfax showroom

Kitchen design- We just installed a kitchen to view in our Fairfax showroom

She’s also sketched ideas for new additions to our collections, such as the Waterfall mirror above, and the Linnaea desk, below.

Linnaea desk drawing

Linnaea desk drawing

Although the sketch of the desk never came to fruition, she says, “I’m learning a ton from them – not only do I get to see the design, I get to see it built.”

Going Green

Date added: 30-03-2010

We’ve just found an incredible local partner to produce sustainable home accessories.

The DC-based Grant Dawson Collections has a Silver rating with the Sustainable Furnishings Council for its eco-friendly practices, such as using recycled and sustainable materials whenever possible.

You can find their Endangered Species collection at Neiman Marcus in Friendship Heights, MD.  The collection celebrates endangered species such as these little dart frogs:

Dart Frog Bottle Stoppers by Grant Dawson Collections

Dart Frog Bottle Stoppers by Grant Dawson Collections

 

And these endangered African orchids:

Orchid Vase by Grant Dawson Collections

Orchid Vase by Grant Dawson Collections

 

They also source sustainable wood, which you can see in the vase above and in this handsome cheese tray:

Claw foot tray by Grant Dawson Collections

Claw foot tray by Grant Dawson Collections

 

That’s where we come in.  CEO Sheri Gorsen and COO Cindy Testa recently asked us to produce the wood components for its products, which include chess boxes, single and triple bud vases, and sea-glass votive holders.

First, we had to do some prototypes, based on models they sent us.

They sent us the chess board and the orchid vase.  We fabricated the models in the foreground, including the blocks that hold the “Endangered Species” wine stoppers.

They sent us the chess board and the orchid vase. We fabricated the models in the foreground, including the blocks that hold the “Endangered Species” wine stoppers.

 

A closeup of the woodworking on the prototypes.

A closeup of the woodworking on the prototypes.

 

Even though everybody talks about going green these days, companies like Grant Dawson are hard to come by, because everything they do has to meet standards set by the SFC.  We are of like minds here – we use SFC-certified mahogany and other kinds of sustainable wood whenever we can.

Sheri sent over this nice testimonial:

“We chose Hardwood Artisans to make our wood products because they are local, skilled artisans with a conscience.  They are handmade in the USA and use SFC certified or equivalent wood from sustainable sources in North America.  Their workmanship is impeccable and they meet the very tough standards both socially and environmentally that we want.”

We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.

Does it Fluff, or Does it Bite?

Date added: 25-03-2010

Founder and General Manager Greg Gloor really wants to know.  We had a marketing meeting this week about the goals for this blog, and Greg was brutally honest with me, the freelancer who writes most of the posts these days.

My services cost about a quarter of what it costs them to place their regular ads in The Washington Post.  Will the blog then show a quarter of the sales results?  Does increased traffic to the blog mean increased sales?

None of us can really tell at this point. (ouch)

So we set our sights on content, and what has been effective in the past.  Of the times Hardwood Artisans has been featured in The Washington Post, Greg said, the stories that have produced customers weren’t those that touted the pretty furniture – the fluffy stuff, in other words.  The stories that “bit” – that brought people through the door – were the ones that were printed in the business section.

This article that talked about Greg’s money management was particularly revealing.  Needless to say, he doesn’t spend a nickel without being ruthlessly sure that it will help his company.

Will pictures of pretty furniture do it?  Or tales from behind the scenes?

“What are the incompetencies?”  Greg asks.  “What are our vulnerabilities, strengths, and idiosyncrasies?  This is the way it is for most companies – it’s a little big gnarly,” he adds, noting that no business is the shiny, tidy, perfect picture you see in the ads. “It is what it is.”

Then he starts talking about Metallica.  The metal band’s documentary, “Some Kind of Monster,” struck of chord with Greg – who is not exactly a huge fan of the music.  He loved seeing the real people in the business and creative meetings offstage, and their though process behind the music.

Metallica

Metallica

Same thing with Michael Jackson’s “This Is It.”  We meet the man and the creative minds behind the tour that never was, rather than the tabloid version of him.

Michael Jacksons, This is it.

Michael Jackson’s, “This is it.”

So, Greg, do you see yourself as a James Hetfield, Metallica’s lead singer, or the King of Pop?  Maybe not, but perhaps we can get insights out of you that most casual Hardwood Artisans customers might not know about.

A Sheltering Space

Date added: 23-03-2010

A few weeks ago, I (Jennifer Sergent) asked the good people here at Hardwood Artisans if they might consider donating a piece of furniture to a local domestic violence shelter – the original post about the less-than-beautiful conditions is on my own blog, here.

Well, not only did they say “yes,” but they decided to build an entire room of furniture for the project, and designer Katie Grech is working on the overall design and color scheme. They also asked two local artists to donate paintings for the wall, and the wife of one of the artists, who is a potter, is donating a bowl.

Owner Ricardo Berrum, Katie, and our marketer, Julianne Yurek, went on a tour of the shelter last week with organizers from Knock Out Abuse, a charity that supports victims of domestic violence. They signed up to design the biggest of the shelter’s bedrooms, which needs to accommodate a family of five.

They will build a custom bunk bed with a trundle bed underneath for the project and a few other pieces.  Here are a few examples of what the bed will look like:

Bunk Bed in red oak

Bunk Bed in red oak

Loft Bed with Pedestal Bed, bookcase headboard and armoire all in maple

Loft Bed with Pedestal Bed, bookcase headboard and armoire all in maple

Loft Bed with Pedestal Bed, bookcase headboard and 4-dr dresser all in birch

Loft Bed with Pedestal Bed, bookcase headboard and 4-dr dresser all in birch

“We want to make sure everyone has their own bed. I really want to create a space that feels like home, that feels calm and makes them feel safe,” Julianne says.

This particular shelter houses families for up to four months, which is more than double the typical stay at most shelters, so it’s important to have a space that feels welcoming and home-like.

The beds, along with dressers they are also building, will be a light birch – a really strong species of wood that can stand up to the abuse of children and several people coming in and out. The color will also complement the blue-green colors Katie wants in there.

The color combination “is very serene,” Julianne says. “It’s perfect for a calming atmosphere, and warm enough so it doesn’t feel like a doctor’s office.”

Artist Bill Firestone is donating this 11” x 14” painting, which is in keeping with the colors of the room:

Bill Firestones painting he is donating to the shelter

Bill Firestone’s painting he is donating to the shelter

“I think this painting could work well. There are nice greens and blues. It’s calming,” Bill says.

Bill’s wife, Stephanie, is donating this bowl, which can be used in the kitchen or dining area:

Stephanie Firestones bowl she is donating to the shelter

Stephanie Firestone’s bowl she is donating to the shelter

In addition, local artist Romina Pereira is producing a custom painting specifically for the room.

The room already has a newly donated rug and window treatments, so Katie will be working with those. Also in the plans are a mirror and a comfy chair. At least one dresser planned for the room will be the proper height to put a baby-changing pad on top. The team is still contemplating how to accommodate all the storage needs in there, so the room doesn’t end up looking like it does now:

We all need proper storage space

We all need proper storage space

“Storage needs are really important,” Katie says, “because they accumulate a lot while they are there.”

Exotic Woods: Pop Quiz!

Date added: 18-03-2010

The April issue of House Beautiful is out now, and the theme running through the entire magazine is wood. Not all of it is online, so you’ll have to pick up an issue to see the many ways interior designers and manufacturers make decorative use of all kinds of wood species.

But one section in particular caught my eye: “Have You Ever Heard of These Woods?” It goes on to display 20 home accessories made from exotic wood from all over the world. For fun, I put owner Mark Gatterdam to the test with a few of them that are pictured in the magazine: How much does he really know about wood?

Tanguile: (Silence). “That’s waay out there.”

Tanguile wood is used in this mirror from Made Goods

Tanguile wood is used in this mirror from Made Goods

Padouk: Yes. “It’s so prohibitively expensive that you make small items with these woods,” such as this iPhone case below, from Miniot:

Reddish African wood. “How do you rout that out?” Mark wants to know.

Reddish African wood. “How do you rout that out?” Mark wants to know.

Acacia: “No.”

Acadia is a tropical hardwood, used here in this bowl by Michael Aram.

Acadia is a tropical hardwood, used here in this bowl by Michael Aram.

(more…)

A Marketer in Training: Julianne Yurek

Date added: 15-03-2010
Julianne Yurek

Julianne Yurek

Although we hate to see Alison Heath leave us as director of marketing, we will be in good hands with Julianne Yurek.  Julianne, who graduated from James Madison University last spring, will be working with one of our owners, Ricardo Berrum, as she gets up to speed.

The story of how Julianne came to be with us is as interesting as any of our customers, which include her parents.

First, though – and we love this – she took a break after graduating by heading out to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexcio. This place is like Mecca for Boy Scouts, who come from all over the country to this 165,000-acre spread each summer – 20,000 of them in all. They spend the entire summer hiking through the back country, rock climbing, logging, learning music, watching the stars, even learning about weather.

The Tooth of Time at Philmont Scout Ranch

Baldy Mountain at Philmont Scout Ranch

Julianne, who heard about the gig through an Eagle Scout friend of hers, worked at the trading post and hiked every weekend. “It’s really life-changing for some of those young men,” she says. And by the way she describes it, it might have had a similar effect on her.

When she came home for the fall, the interior design major found out that her parents had just ordered the Waterfall chest from Hardwood Artisans, but her mother was worried about the order. The light finish she requested might not go well with the yellow walls in the house, and her mother wanted to know Julianne’s opinion. “When I come home, I always play interior designer for my mom.”

She ended up calling Mark and putting the order on hold. Julie came down to the shop and met Alison to discuss a better finish for their chest. Here is the result, in mahogany with curly maple accents:

Waterfall Chest in mahogany

Waterfall Chest in mahogany

Waterfall Chest side detail in curly maple

While Julianne was there working out the new design and finish, she and Alison got to talking, Alison asked for a resume, and as it would happen, Alison’s assistant ended up leaving fairly soon thereafter for another job. Enter, Julianne!

Now that she’s been here for five months, we asked her about her favorite pieces. “I’m still on the fresh-out-of-college budget,” she says, but: “I’ve been eyeing the platform pedestal bed – I really love it.”

Platform Pedestal Bed

Platform Pedestal Bed

She’s also falling for the Shinto Bench. “It has beautiful details in it – it’s an elegant design.”

Shinto Bench

Shinto Benches in mahogany and walnut

We asked Julianne about her marketing goals for us, and she said she’s most interested in featuring the work of local artisans in the Fairfax showroom. “I think it will be neat to involve more local artists in our store and bring the community together,” she says.

She also wants to put more of her interior and graphic design skills to work. “I believe our furniture is a functional piece of art and deserves that respect. I am excited to engage more interior designers and art collectors with our company and keep up the excellent reputation it already has,” she says.

We have nothing but great expectations.

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