We talk about sustainability, and what we as individuals do to reduce our carbon footprint. I recycle heavily, I live in a small house, drive a Smart Car, and otherwise re-use or re-purpose many things. Call it thrifty, cheap, or conscientious, but I do my small part. I’m able to do more with the company, and we do. Our sustainability position is pretty strong.

As time marches forward, I find myself coveting the past. By this I mean that the things that worked for me years ago seem to have proven themselves over the test of time, and I find that I come across as “old timey” when talking to the newer generations.

The fact is Hardwood Artisans makes solid wood furniture using old fashioned joinery. It works, even if it is an antiquated system using old time tools. I mean, really, when was the last time you saw someone break out a hand plane? Talk about old fashioned…

Think about it. A tree takes in carbon and holds it until it burns or rots in the woods. This carbon is then released back into the environment. By using the tree in the form of furniture, we trap the carbon inside. Well, at least for the life of the piece.

Architect Michael Greene elaborated on this idea when discussing the idea of wooden skyscrapers in a TED video linked below. Greene makes a tremendous case for why we should be using wood instead of concrete or steel to erect these structures. His argument coincides and supports my personal philosophy on lumber being used in a sustainable manner. He also provides compelling statistics regarding demand in the future for housing, overpopulation, homelessness, and the overall shift in living environments.

In tandem to the Greene video, I am reading Dan Brown’s book “Inferno”, a story that revolves around the overpopulation of the planet and some apocalyptic plague purposefully placed to offset this problem. I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to give anything away, but sufficed to say that it gets you thinking.

A chain of unrelated events over the past month have gotten me to look at what we do at Hardwood Artisans with a fine tooth comb. Ken, Greg, and Lois’ retirement, Syria, Michael Greene’s video, recent disputes over climate change have all got me wondering about our position, and with that consideration, I find myself digging in deeper to the roots of this organization that I know will last. Take care of the customer, build a quality product, conduct ourselves in a manner that contributes to the greater good.

I Made This: Greg Smith

greg s (2)

Hardwood Artisans craftsman, Greg Smith, has been with Hardwood Artisans off and on again for about 15 years. The 43 year old craftsman grew up in the Alexandria, VA area, and attended T.C. Williams High School.

Greg works on various dining tables, chairs, and custom projects that require the occasional “thinking outside of the box”. Greg says that his favorite piece to make is the Shinto Stool, because he likes the “obstacles” the piece presents. Greg began working for Hardwood Artisans in 1993 because his uncle worked here and thought it would be good for Greg to learn a craft.

Greg spends his spare time doing oil paintings and playing video games. His goal is to merge oil paintings with woodworking, replacing art glass panes with oil paintings. At work, he is a little, shall we say, sloppy with the work areas, but at home he is what several friends describe as a “neat freak”. These contradictions in life are seemingly typical for Greg. Ultimately, his goals surround a more metaphysical ideology, of serenity.

Greg has mastered mortise and tenon work, as evident in the chairs pictured. The split back splat was his design. He has several unique pieces that he has designed and crafted for himself and family members. We have several photos of his work throughout the organization. We featured Greg Smith here because we consider him a unique asset to Hardwood Artisans. Feel free to interpret that any way you like. As we like to say around here, if you are looking for normal, go someplace else.


Retirement blog pic

Greg Gloor

Greg Gloor retires this month after 37 years of creating Hardwood Artisans. I am sure it is a difficult thing to let go of. On the other hand, he has probably seen enough, and is ready to move on to something different. He is already enrolled in college classes!

I consider Greg the “Steve Jobs” of Hardwood Artisans. Brilliant, visionary, creative, difficult, compassionate, unrelenting, patient, generous, motivating. I suspect anyone who can create something this great must have all these attributes, good and bad.

I can honestly say that Greg is one of the smartest individuals I have ever met. Many people would agree with me about that statement. But you don’t build a business like Hardwood Artisans by just being smart. It takes so much more.

Greg has taught each of the current owners what he can about what it takes to run this company. Each of the six partners represents a part of Greg’s skills and knowledge. Curt took the financial and technical. Ricardo took the general managing and some design. John Hilgren took the very technical. John Buss took the maintaining and improving. Kevin took the day to day grind of getting the production job done. And I took the designing and branding of the company. Essentially, it now takes six men to do what Greg did alone years ago.

It is difficult to express the gratitude the partners have toward this man. Personally, he has taught me a great deal, and more than just furniture design. We have been through some of the best and worst times. We have shared booms and busts, weddings, births, and deaths. We have loved and hated, sometimes at the same time. If you have ever had the privilege of working with Greg, you know what I mean. Perfection does not come about seamlessly. It is the hard road taken that results in the complete fulfillment of an idea, a design, a need. This is Greg’s legacy.

Lois Gloor

Lois Gloor is the wife of Greg, the founder of Hardwood Artisans. She is retiring this month, along with Greg. Some of you know her, but many of our customers are unaware of her contributions to the organization over the past 37 years. Part of this reason is because many of her functions have been behind the scenes. Bookkeeping, technical support, and for the past 15 years or so, photographer and graphics work.

Lois has been responsible for all those pictures you see in the Washington Post Magazine and photo albums in the showrooms, as well as all the price sheets we hand out. So, you see, she has been out of site because she has often been on the “other end” of the camera.

Photography has become a passion for Lois, and she plans on doing more in retirement. She is selling the company her old camera, trading up to the newest and greatest model! Being more involved with the raising of grandchildren, travel, and just doing all those things that time would not allow due to a busy work schedule will fill the days.

Lois’ contributions to the organization have been huge. We hope to continue the work she has so carefully crafted, and continue the legacy of excellence. If you have time this month, send her a note –

Ken Schell, The Redneck Dali Lama

Ken (Left) Dennis (Right)

Ken (Left) Dennis (Right)

Our dear friend and Rockville manager Ken Schell retired this past week after over 22 years of service. Like many of you, I will miss my weekly doling of his “pearls of Redneck wisdom”, as I liked to call it.

A self-admitted K-mart kind of guy with an eye for style, scale, fashion, and aesthetics, Ken was quite the contradiction. I loved the way he could say what sounded like the stupidest thing, and then make you see why it made sense. I know many of our customers will miss his peculiar strategy for figuring out what their actual needs were.

It is tough to write nice things about Ken without coming across as sounding critical about him. On the contrary, I have a tremendous respect for Ken, and am grateful to have known him. Funny, light-hearted, and able to put the correct perspective on most situations, everyone at Hardwood Artisans will miss him dearly.

-Mark Gatterdam

Kindling for a Cause

My wife, Erika, doesn’t like to waste anything. Her mother came from the Old Country and frugality was a way of life in her house. After all, many immigrants arrived at the New World with very little. My family wasn’t as interested in saving and Erika saw me as wasteful when we merged our lives together. Over 25 years ago, when I started working in the shop of The Loft Bed Store, I would occasionally bring home a couple buckets of scrap wood; small, 0r randomly sized chunks of kiln dried cherry, oak, walnut, and mahogany known as mill ends. We’d use this in our small condo fireplace since we couldn’t afford to purchase seasoned firewood for our occasional fires. She couldn’t believe this stuff was just thrown out. (After all, her mother would have found a way to build a house with it or sell it on Ebay.) But in creating furniture, the fact is that every single inch of wood just isn’t usable. Though the shop guys are very cognizant of using each piece of lumber to its fullest potential, there are sap stains, splits and other irregularities that need to be cut around. Then each piece needs to be edged, squaring it up, and other trim scraps are added to the pile. Admittedly, it is tough seeing all this beautiful hardwood tossed. Well, not exactly tossed. We do send it to the local landfill, to be ground up with other things like yard waste and used Christmas trees. That mixture is turned into mulch.

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Our Expanding Local Artist Program

As you know, Hardwood Artisans loves our local artists and showing them off.  We have a collection of new local artwork in our showrooms and we’d love for all the fans of handmade art to visit our showrooms and check them out:

  • Barbara Gatterdam – makes beautiful pottery out of her home in Great Falls, VA
  • Fred Eberhart – for a limited time only, a local photographer we acquired through Broadway Gallery in Alexandria, VA
  • Amy Jackson – a brand new local potter with her own sense of style in Fair Oaks, VA
  • Lawrence Oliver – makes handmade wooden sculptures that leave you in awe in Missouri

From top counter-clockwise; Fred Eberhart: Old Rag, Clearing Storm; Barbara Gatterdam: Large Bowl; Lawrence Oliver: Vase in ebonized cherry; Amy Jackson: Hibiscus

Throughout this week we will be posting blogs highlighting about different local artists that we are displaying in our showroom.

Tuesday:  Barbara Gatterdam & Fred Eberhart

Wednesday: Amy Jackson & Lawrence Oliver

We’re excited to hear your opinions on their work!

Goodbye Woodbridge, Hello Culpeper!

At the end of the year 2011 Hardwood Artisans will move its whole woodshop and its employees to our recently purchased new shop space in Culpeper, Virginia.  We have spent most of our Hardwood Artisans life in Woodbridge, Virginia building furniture for you, your family members and your friends.  We have been expanding over the past ten years at about a rate of about 3%.  We are hoping this will continue for years and years to come.

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Betty Ganley: Painting Scenes We Want to Visit

Ahoy to Hardwood Artisans’ newest featured artist, Betty Ganley!  Betty Ganley is a local watercolor painter with wonderful scenes depicting gardens, boating and flowers.  In the world of watercolor, her name brings instant recognition.  Betty’s many awards showcase her love of the marine scenes of the Chesapeake, the coast of Maine, and Cornwall, England. Her nautical paintings, as well as those of her  florals and still life’s  have been published in art books featuring todays top water colorists.  You can almost hear the waves lapping at the shore and hear the gulls squawking at each other when you gaze at her marina paintings and smell the beautiful flowers when you look at her floral paintings.

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Lemonade Social Feature – 3-day Walk for the Cure

Hardwood Artisans is excited to announce that Lois Gloor, our first original employee, has joined the Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure. It’s a 3-day walk billed as the “biggest, boldest event in breast cancer [research] history.”

Lois first became aware that the issue of breast cancer was increasing when one of her long-time customers at Hardwood Artisans was diagnosed with it. And then, her daughter’s future mother-in-law was diagnosed. Lois decided that there needed to be better ways to detect and cure the problem.

Lois’s Daughter, the founder of the Gloor Bassler Group

“My daughter asked me to join her team to raise funds for cancer research. Since it involves walking 20 miles per day for three days straight, I’ve started preparing. Hopefully I’ll be ready by the date of the event.”

We’re positive that Lois will do great!

To help Lois get to the donation goal of $2,300 (hopefully more), we will have donation options available at our Lemonade Social. If you can’t make it out on July 16th to our Woodbridge shop, you can call 800-996-3DAY to donate for Lois Gloor over the phone or visit her page to donate online.

We’re excited to have such great opportunities available at our Lemonade Social and can’t wait for July 16th!

For more information about the donation process, you can visit the website at If you want more details on our Lemonade Social, visit our website.

Lemonade Social Guest – Friends of Homeless Animals

You may notice a tent set up in the parking lot of our Woodbridge shop during the Lemonade Social this July 16th. Hardwood Artisans will be host to a charity called Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) at our Lemonade Social on July 16th. FOHA is a non-profit no-kill animal shelter located in Northern Virginia. They have been providing rehabilitation, rescue, medical care, and adoption services since 1972.  FOHA rescues dogs and cats from abusive situations, death row at animal shelters, or from owners who can no longer provide care for their pets. They will have a tent set up in the parking lot of our Woodbridge shop during the Lemonade Social, so you will be able to ask FOHA volunteers questions about their cause.

FOHA’s rescue vehicle is on its last legs and they’re trying to raise money for a new one. They use this vehicle to transport dogs and cats from kill shelters. It’s also the main way they gather food and supplies. This is where we (and you!) come in hand! Hardwood Artisans is hoping to help raise money during our Lemonade Social so FOHA can replace their current transport van. We are going to have a silent auction from 10am to 3pm with two items – a Hillgren Jewelry box and a square Plant Stand.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about volunteering, donations, and possibly about adopting one of the cute animals they have rescued.

Our Marketing Director, Julianne Yurek has been personally involved with FOHA, from participating as a volunteer at some of their events to adopting two dogs from them. We’re really excited to be able to help out and can’t wait to see how much money we raise for their cause!

For more information on FOHA or to look at the rest of the adorable animals they have up for adoption, visit their website at If you want more details on the Lemonade Social, visit our website