Adirondack Chairs

It’s not uncommon for tractors to drive up and down the mountain. But for a tractor to come right up to me with an old Orvis Adirondack fish chair in its bucket, then drop the chair in front of me like an oversized red dog presenting me with a toy, well…that was a first. And an inspiration.

My neighbor had that chair for a long time and literally loved it to pieces. Dilapidated as it was, it survived its descent to my driveway.

“I thought this could be a prototype for you!” She said before heading back up.

Immediately I knew that I would be making one of these for her to replace the one she parted with. She’s looked out for me and been an incredible neighbor this past year; a fish chair was a good start at a thank you to her for her selflessness. I’ve never made a fish chair before. Wanting it to be entirely out of reclaimed wood, I went on a hunt around the shop and barn to see if I had enough lumber to build one of these.

OH HAPPY DAY. I had enough to build two. A fish chair for her, and a chair for her wife, a yoga instructor in a nearby town.

My take on the fish chair resembles a barracuda more than a Battenkill trout, but…

IMG_9438.JPG

I’m not big on following step-by-step directions. Even IKEA instructions frustrate me. (Yeah, they’re all pictures. I know.) Learning to build these was the exact way my brain works best. Study something tangible, and then try it out for myself without any plan of my own or paper in front of me.  I’ll never be a fine carpenter because of this (and, well, because of my aversion to all things mathematical, but that’s a different story). But for how my brain is wired and the line of work I do, this works.

In the middle of the craziness with shows and constant traveling these past few months, doing a fun build was downright…fun. And reminded me why I love doing what I do.

 

Some customers have asked about custom chairs for the spring. Besides traditional Adirondack chairs, pallet chairs and barrel stave chairs, I’m happy to make any kind of chair you’d like!

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

The Wine Table

One. Last. Show.

I ran two full marathons in my life: sheer euphoria and pure hell wrapped up in a not-so-tidy 26.2 mile package. This show season reminds me of the months of training for those and then running the races. Except this time, I’m limping across the finish line.

The weather has made this show season particularly rough. That, coupled with having the bright idea of signing up for shows every weekend for two months straight has left me pretty weary. I know that when I don’t listen to God and pump the breaks on my life, He tends to step in and intervene. That seems to be the case this week.

IMG_9476.JPG

Wind gusts from yet another tropical storm whipped through Harvest Fest at Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks last weekend, causing huge pallet racks to break free from their zip tied places on the grid wall and sail in the direction that gravity deemed. I just happened to be sitting under the ones that took flight and now have the bruised imprint of two 3-foot pallet racks across my back and a jacked up left arm where another piece of agony art went careening into my unsuspecting wrist.

IMG_9473.JPG

While unpacking my trailer yesterday morning, a groggy bee rallied one last time to sting me multiple times in the left palm.

IMG_9497.JPG

I then removed a tote from the trailer, and, forgetting it had poured the night before and my tarp has a hole in it, poured a gallon of water that had collected on the tote’s lid down the front of me until it pooled in my boots.

During life seasons like the one I’ve been in recently, it would be so easy to sullenly sit in a corner, licking my wounds from the ramifications of doing life my way.  I have to remind myself to see the joy in each day and be thankful for the little things, even while in the throes of refinement. That my boots will dry. That I’m not allergic to bees. That I’ve had the chance to travel around the east coast and meet some incredibly talented and awesome people.  That while I have this weird protrusion on my arm, I didn’t break it.  That the pallet rack missed my neck by a few inches. That I’ve had this huge internal growth spurt at the age of 38.

And instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you find yourself smiling at the poignant encounters with others. Like chatting with a 6-year old girl at your booth about school and then giving her a pencil holder full of pencils, to which she responds by rooting through her bag of black and yellow eggs that hold prizes from an egg hunt, cracks one open, and hands me this glittery plastic ring in exchange:

IMG_9477.JPG

Or how antique windows and doors keep showing up on my driveway from a kind-hearted neighbor who knows they are treasures to me and lugs them over from all around the area on my behalf.

Or how friends save random pieces of this or that for me to incorporate into a pieces, like this wine table that was inspired by the small metal glass holder you see underneath the 167-year old barn wood table top. Another friend has been on the hunt for sewing machine bases for me, so when I got this antique Singer sewing machine table from him (complete with the sewing machine), I took it apart, painted the base, added a barn wood top along with wine bottle racks I’ve been saving for the right piece, and added the glass holder underneath. It’s like a mini wine bar. Perfect for this last show. It rolls. And it won’t fall off grid wall. And it’s a reminder to celebrate the end of a growth season on Monday, no matter what this weekend holds.

IMG_9435.jpg

IMG_9436.JPG

Find the joy in the little things.

 

(I have two of these wine tables for sale; if you are interested in one, please let me know before Thursday evening as they’ll be road tripping with me to Oyster Bay!)

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Small Stuff

Vermont’s unpredictable weather followed me to Montauk for the two-day craft fair out there last weekend. Gone are the days where you wake up and check weather.com or an app for an accurate reading. I now understand why Vermonters just get up and go and embrace whatever the sky decides to bestow upon them. It’s a mix of sheer optimism and an acceptance that you know you could have sunshine, rain, hail, wind, or snow…in any season.

So when the doppler said no rain on Long Island, even with Hurricane Jose lingering offshore, I believed it. The weather people had to be right. Because I still faithfully wake up and check weather.com like it were a morning devotional. You can’t make an apple an orange.

Friday night was horrible.

First, there were the squalls. Sheets of rain driving down. Then add 40 mph winds. The rain no longer came down. It came horizontally.

Yet I still tried to set up my booth that night. I knew it was a lost cause, but first looked at it as a fun challenge. Optimism reigned. But after a solid half-hour fighting my EZ-Up tent and yelling at it that it needed a new name, the wind then played tug of war, trying to rip said EZ-Up tent out of my white-knuckled grip and into the main drag of Montauk.  I soon found myself in tears under a canopy of soggy white fabric and torn side flaps that longed to be a parachute instead of a vendor tent. The tears soon morphed into a full sob at the realization that I was only getting a small sample of Jose and Maria’s destructive power over that weekend. The four islands I loved the most and found rest and renewal on over the years had experienced apocalyptic devastation. I cried for what was. And I cried for the unimaginable situation that people I had met and hadn’t crossed paths with were facing at that moment. The suffering of others was overwhelming.

Later that night, as a few vendors and I took refuge in a glorious U-Haul trailer, the conversation took a somber turn as we sat near the opening, listening to the angry surf and occasionally checking on our booths to see what inventory was destroyed by the most recent gust, all asking each other, “How did life turn out to look like this?” The excitement of traveling for shows and the “carnie” lifestyle was long gone. I was tired of the weather impacting sales, and disappointed that I was letting it get to my attitude as well. I missed home. A warm bed. A routine that involved more than just working my butt off.

As I emerged from my tent the next day, an old man with a shocking white beard was walking through the grass near my temporary abode. He looked my way and at my truck, then back at me and gave me a thumbs up with a small smile. “Home is where your heart is.” Then he disappeared by the reeds at the edge of the bay.

Indeed, sir. And for now, that means two more weeks of shows and travel and building like mad, and then…

Sometimes life needs a …

Followed by open space. Nothing.

 

(In the meantime, life needs more small inventory that can withstand one more outdoor show in the Adirondacks that’s known for high winds and one huge indoor show by Manhattan where people can easily bring home purchased items via train.)

Trays:

IMG_9315.JPG

Barn wood tissue boxes:

IMG_9406.JPG

Tool caddies with beer openers (that also function as beer caddies):

IMG_9402.JPG

Note or photo holders/wall decor:

IMG_9276.JPG

Tin roof sign bird houses:

IMG_9312.JPG

 

If you are looking for something to do these next two weekends, come to Gore Mountain in upstate NY October 7-8 or Oyster Fest in Oyster Bay, NY October 14-15! Thank you friends, family, and repeat customers who have come out to the shows this season. It’s so uplifting to see familiar faces! I truly appreciate the love and support. I hug you all fiercely at these things because you are a reminder of home. (Ye be warned.)

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Cedar Hope Chest

It all started with a pile of 100-year old cedar siding reclaimed from a house near Stratton, Vermont that a contractor was going to use for a bonfire. (Yeah. I sorta freaked out when I heard that.)

The salvaged cedar became an accent wall.

IMG_9209.JPG

Then a waterfall ceiling/wall.

IMG_9210.JPG

And it’s in the process of becoming a custom door.

IMG_9211.JPG

And I had enough left to make a 5′ long cedar hope chest.

IMG_9171.JPG

(Every piece of this is repurposed, from the fabric seat to the super comfy memory foam bench to the cedar siding that smells incredible to the hardware to the red barn wood accent pieces.)

IMG_9172.JPG

IMG_9167.JPG

This is the gift that keeps on giving. I feel like I had a few loaves and fishes that kept multiplying. And continue to do so.

And I just realized I have enough cedar to make ANOTHER hope chest.

IMG_9202.JPG

 

Cedar hope chest: please email me with the size you are interested in (between 2-5 feet) and I’d be happy to give you a quote!

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Garlic Fest 2017!

It’s a beautiful day in southern Vermont to attend the 22nd annual Garlic Fest, going on all weekend at Camelot Village in Bennington, Vermont!

Roam around and enjoy tons of free samples, buy gifts, participate in cooking demonstrations, listen to live music, and grab something from one of the amazing food trucks or wine or beer tent. Bring the entire family! There is something for people of all ages.

Stop by the “Nature Calls: Reclaimed Wood Designs” booth, conveniently located close to the stage and food trucks, and say hi!

Today and tomorrow, rain or shine, from 10am-5pm!  www.lovegarlic.com

 

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Barn beam end tables

So simple. Yet so much character.

IMG_9012.JPG

Hand hewn barn beams from a 200 year old barn in the Adirondacks…

IMG_7465.JPG

IMG_7467.JPG

…repurposed into one of a kind matching end tables. Sanded and sealed with lacquer.

IMG_9018.JPG

Own a piece of history!

 

Barn beam end tables:  $119 per table or 2 for $210

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

German Beer Hall Table

 

I had an idea for this 6′ x 2′ metal frame even before I purchased it from my buddy’s pickup truck. (These encounters in parking lots must look super shady…)

IMG_8905.JPG

Metal frame + matte paint + barnwood = a German Beer Hall Table.

IMG_8908.JPG

IMG_8915.JPG

IMG_8911.JPG

Yep. More agony art.

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Country tables and benches

The carnies are in town! That means weekends full of free music fests, rides, bands, fireworks, games…you name it.

My busy show season also kicked off in Montauk around the same time the carnivals came to Vermont. Vendors from the northeast sold their hand-crafted items in a juried fair just steps from the beach and within walking distance of downtown. If you’ve been to Montauk, you know that there’s a huge wait list for camping at Hither Hills, and camping is at a premium. Shockingly, vendors were allowed to camp right on the show grounds for a crazy low price.  Tents, u-hauls, and campers dotted the perimeter of the historic grounds, tucked among the trees. Vendors congregated at the end of the show days like a bunch of carnies, displaced for the weekend but part of some dysfunctional family all living in close proximity to each other out of our respective vehicles while peddling our wares during the daylight hours.

If you think about it, traveling to do shows is a lot like living the life of a carnival worker. It can be full of adventure, road trips, great for business, and…exhausting. I’m doing something new this show season; I’ve mostly pursued being a part of large, juried shows instead of the small town ones. That means being on the road almost every weekend in September and October. And after selling out of pallet furniture in just one show at Montauk and not being able to get my act together to build a lot in the winter and spring, I need to start building up a huge stock of inventory in the upcoming month.

And it’ll mostly be large pieces like these.

IMG_8879.JPG

Tables. Benches. Chairs. That’s what sells at shows.  Unfortunately, that means the pieces are large and heavy. For years now, people buy an item from me and try to drag it to their cars with a strange look on their face: pure joy for purchasing the one of the kind reclaimed wood piece mixed with an equal amount of pain while trying to figure out how to get the heavy item not only IN their vehicles but then into their homes.

IMG_8877.JPG

My work recently gotten the nickname “agony art” by a fellow artist who had a booth space across from me who watched customers leave my booth with purchases all day long.

Every year during the show season, I vow to build smaller and lighter stuff for my sake while traveling and setting up and also for my customers.

It’s not happening. Build what you love and build what people want. Looks like agony art is going to be around for awhile.

IMG_8876 (1).jpg

IMG_8875.JPG

These tables are made from reclaimed barn wood and fence pieces. All different sizes and styles and finishes will be available at the upcoming shows. For more information as to where you can find these pieces at shows this summer and fall, please visit the show schedule link on the home page.

Thanks!

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Back to the Adirondacks

You never know who you are going to meet through Craigslist.

Heading back to the farm in the Adirondacks yesterday to get more barn wood from the farmer and his wife I met a few months ago on Craigslist felt more like a trip to see an old friend than a work day.

FullSizeRender 6.jpg

A few months ago, I had responded to an ad online to get barn wood from a farm on a windy ridge that had lost its 200+-year old barn in a recent storm. The whole thing collapsed on itself just days prior. I wasn’t sure what I’d find when I got there; sometimes these things end up being wild goose chases or you see where the listing takes you and it’s best to just keep driving by if you don’t have a wingman with you. (For those of you who think I’m too naive and trusting, have no fear – I always have a wingman when answering Craigslist ads. Because yes. I’m too naive and trusting.)  But the old farmer was kind and generous. And while it broke my heart to see that this hard-working man had lost his barn, I was glad that the wood wasn’t going to go to waste and rot on the ridge, and he was just as happy to get rid of it.

And he said he was doing ok, thanks to one of these being on his property.

FullSizeRender 5.jpg

The barn was huge. This is what it looked like before the storm.

IMG_1708.JPG

And then after.

FullSizeRender.jpg

FullSizeRender 3.jpg

IMG_4434.JPG

Upon arrival on the farm yesterday, the farmer had done the hard work; a pile of beautiful barn wood siding was waiting next to the barn, and he said to take it all.

FullSizeRender 2.jpg

“People have come to get some of the easier to reach stuff since you were last here,” he said. “A lot of young people.” He paused, and then smiled crookedly. “Well, everyone’s young compared to me.”

He then climbed over the gate and disappeared in the pasture to gather hay for the nine cows he said were wandering around somewhere.

It’s people like that who redeem my faith in humanity. The salt of the earth, friends. Found free on Craigslist, of all places.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood

Family Benches

Two weeks before the 4th of July holiday, I received a request for a custom bench that was needed the beginning of July for a family gathering on the shores of Lake St. Catherine.

I usually steer clear of rush orders for my own sanity. But then the customer told me why he needed them so fast.  Earlier this year they lost their brother, and they always gather twice a year at their house in Vermont as a family.  He wanted the bench to be a surprise for his family and something symbolic for them as they gather around the fire pit at night.  I knew it wasn’t something I’d pass on.  We quickly agreed on a design for two matching benches out of a beautiful slab of cherry and I got to work.

IMG_8316.jpg

Not knowing this family or the property it would be going on, I went with my instinct. I had no idea the patriarch of the family was a woodworker when I decided on plugs. Going with my gut on how to attach the legs to the bench top paid off. IMG_8320.jpg

IMG_8321.jpg

I asked him if he’d like anything wood burned into the benches since they were symbolic for the family. At that point, he informed me that the second bench was in memory of his mother, who also had passed away. Both benches were a surprise for the family.

By now, there was a quiet reverence (and a lump in my throat) while I worked in the shop on these. I felt humbled and honored and grateful to be commissioned to create these.

IMG_8334.jpg

IMG_8336.jpg

IMG_8335.jpg

As many of my own family memories were of us gathering in Vermont twice a year around a campfire, not far from where this order was delivered, I know how cherished, chaotic, unpredictable, and precious that time together is.

The brother tells his story best:

“Our family is originally from Long Island. In 1996, my mom and dad moved off of Long Island and my dad had the log cabin built in Vermont. The outside of the house was built by a company, but my dad did many of the inside walls and floors. Everything is custom, from the walnut pegs in the floor to the the cabinets to the mantle piece over the fireplace. My dad also built both the horse barn and the huge garage on the property.
A few years after we had settled in Vermont, my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in the winter of 2000. My mom and dad have 10 kids. They had 7 of their own and then adopted three (all related) and we have made a point to get together at the house in Vermont 2x a year as a whole family. We usually do 1x in the summer and 1x in December.
This past fall we lost our oldest brother John from complications after having a stroke. He has 3 boys. In total we have about 30 immediate family members stay the weekend with us each time we get together. The summer weekend is usually spent down at the state park, boating, swimming and canoeing. We typically will fill the winter weekend with tubing and sledding, too much food and great conversations. The 14 grandkids all get along and catch up playing games and hang out. It really is a great time. 
We usually will end the night at the fire pit that these benches will be around now. The view from the lake is amazing and we are able to laugh and share stories with each other. Hopefully the benches allow for us to at least feel like our mom and brother John are with us. I appreciate you taking the time and care to put these together.”
IMG_8625.jpg
IMG_8626.JPG
IMG_8624 (1).jpg

(Their dad thought that the benches were too nice to keep out by the fire pit, so they are now in the family room where the family gathers together in winter.)

 

To this family…thank YOU.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Reclaimed wood