Custom High-End Turtle Cage Design

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.

The Lucky Turtles

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.

Image of the Piece without the Turtle Residents. Showing off the Removable Doors on the Front of the Piece- Door on

Showing off the Removable Doors on the Front of the Piece- Door 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.

Built out of red oak wood this turtle cage features everything a turtle and turtle owner can need!

Guaranteed to last a lifetime!

“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.”

It’s playtime!

Accessories Are All The Rage

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.

Various 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!

A Potter with a Twist, Hadrian Mendoza

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.

Twisted Bottle

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:

Fish Tea Set handmade by Hadrian

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:

Hadrian sculpting a tray at Lorton Workhouse Arts Center

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.

Inspirational Art by Suzanne Clifford-Clark

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.

The Sliding Hour by Suzanne Clifford-Clark

The Sliding Hour by Suzanne Clifford-Clark

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.

Horse #1 by Suzanne Clifford-Clark

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.

Late Day by Suzanne Clifford-Clark

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.

Imprimatura Layer

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.

General to Specific

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!

Showing Art through the Glass

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:

"Fall Begins" An Art Glass Screen

“Fall Begins” An Art Glass Screen

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.

Javier's Mirror with Edwin's Art Glass Design

Javier’s Mirror with Edwin’s Art Glass Design

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:

Edwin's Art Glass for Greg Gloor's Home

Edwin’s Art Glass 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!

Edwin's Art Glass up close

 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!

Edwin working on a kitchen cabinet art glass design

Edwin working on a kitchen cabinet art glass design

If you would like to see his creations, or talk to him about a project you can email him:  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

Trivets: The process behind making a gift for you!

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

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:  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

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

Stunning Art – Created by Fire in a Trash Can

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?

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.”