Entries in carving (33)


Southwest Native American Entertainment Centers

For most of my commissions, the people involved in hiring me agree on the style they want in their home. But once in a while I meet a couple who have very differing opinions on what they want in the way of design and style.

I met one such couple who had recently moved to Rancho Santa Fe, California, and were remodeling the home they had just purchased. He is French, recently moved here from the Czech Republic, and he imported computer technology for a living. She is from England, and was a fashion model. Here comes the design problem: He loved very contemporary styles and she was fascinated by Native American Indian and Southwestern styles. My solution was to design contemporary furniture and built-ins with carvings of Native Americans and Southwest motifs. I started with one piece and went on to make six pieces of furniture along with their entryway.

The first piece, pictured above, is a TV stereo cabinet in the master bedroom The border is solid macassar ebony, the doors are solid birdseye maple, and the Native American woman is in solid maple. I used concealed hinges and a touch latch so no hardware would disrupt the feeling of the woman walking away to some unknown place. The contrast in the ebony and birdseye is stunning. 

The second piece, pictured below, is the entertainment center in the living room, made of solid Australian lacewood and Honduras rosewood. The Native American woman, sitting deep in thought in the lower right corner, is carved in Honduras mahogany. Also note the inlayed arrowhead design in the doors just below the top. The tambour doors in the middle cabinet allow the TV to be viewed from any part of the room since the doors don't block the TV. And the very top section was designed for artwork, in which my clients placed a beautiful Native American pot.

It can be challenging to accomodate more than one design style in a single piece of furniture, but I am always up for a challenge, it's what makes my job and my life interesting!


Sandhill Cranes in Utah

I was commissioned to create three projects for a family retreat in the mountains in Utah. I was told it is a very remote area and not accessible during the winter months when snow is on the ground. From the photos I saw and the description of the area it is absolutely beautiful. I have been lucky to have done several projects in Park City and Deer Valley, Utah and Sun Valley, Idaho, and was very glad to be doing more work in such gorgeous country.

All three of these projects allowed me to use my skills in woodworking, woodcarving and glass arts. The first project was the Fox entry I wrote about in my last blog (February, 2018), which was the entryway to the guest lodge. The second project was the entryway for the main lodge, with hand-carved Sandhill cranes and an olive tree. The third project, a hand-carved mantel, I will write about in my next blog.

The pair of doors with the Sandhill cranes, made of solid black walnut, was especially challenging because the design crosses from door to door in heavy relief on both sides of the doors, with my heavily carved and fused glass as well. The perspective turned out great. The photos I am including in this blog are good, but never do justice to the doors in real life, as I am unable to capture the degree of detail with a photograph. To see it in person, to be able to touch the work, is a much different experience than simply seeing it in print. 


A Fantastic Entryway in Rancho Santa Fe, CA

This entry is in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, next to the original Rancho Santa Fe Golf Course, and it turned out really beautiful. The scene is of a large California live oak tree with four female quail carved into the wood at the base of the tree and a colorful male quail, done in my fused-glass technique, on the lookout in the branches above. There are also a couple of mourning doves in the fused glass in the uppermost branches.

Above: This is the best photo I could get of the transom above the door. 

Above: Three of the female quail

Above: The fourth female quail

Above: The male quail as a fused glass art piece, incorporated into the wood branch of the oak tree

This peaceful scene is not unusual to come across on golf courses with plentiful canyons nearby in Southern California. 

The heavily carved solid walnut door is about 10 feet wide and 12 feet tall including the transom, and it's over 3" thick with 1/2" carved, fused glass panels integrated into the doors, side lights and transom. This makes for a seamless design, with the door handles, inside and out, carved as part of the branches, assimilating the parts together to become one.

I have added more photos below, but pictures never do justice to let you feel the size and scope of the art piece.

Above: You can see the door handle that I carved to look like one of the tree branches, incorporating it into the design.

Above: Close up of the two mourning doves in the upper branches.



Neo-Classic Kitchen in Del Mar, CA (and a rant about MDF!)

For some reason most woodworking companies have a different standard for kitchen cabinets than for other furniture and built in furniture. This evolving construction has led designers and homeowners to believe they are getting high-end quality construction when in fact the opposite is true. MDF (medium-density fibreboard or particle board) whether with a melamine, painted or wood veneer surface is not quality construction. It has no integral strength and does very poor around water, and anything made out of it will not last. You will never see anything made of MDF as an antique in the future. Woodworkers started making products out of it because it is the least expensive material you can get. Wood core plywood and solid woods are many times more durable than anything else, not to mention the beauty of solid woods. Quality construction furniture and built-ins last many generations.

Above and below are photo's of such a kitchen, made for a client of mine who really cared about quality for her custom home in Del Mar, CA. She enjoyed the feeling of being in rooms full of quality workmanship. The Neo-Classic kitchen is made of solid cherry and detailed in ebony. The curved cherry doors, door panels, drawers, and glass add dimension. The custom-made matching door and drawer pulls were all made in my shop. The wine and plate racks add functionality.

I wanted to add a bit of a nature theme to the kitchen so I added my artistic touches to some of the glass. There is a display cabinet with glass shelves and lighting and a glass cabinet door with Torry pine branches carved into the glass. In the breakfast nook I designed and built a cozy booth, and a table with a 1-1/2" thick glass table top. I carved deeply into the bottom of the glass Torry pine branches. Nature is one of my favorite subject matters to incorporate into my work, and by simply adding some hand-carved glass with tree branches, I achieved the look and feel that my client and I were striving for.

This is a kitchen that will get more beautiful with age and become a future antique for the next lucky homeowner who moves into this house.


Country French Entryway

There are a lot of things I like about my work. To be able to express my creative abilities by designing, building, finishing, and installing a project are just a few of those things. But at the top of the list is getting to know the people I am designing and building things for. So many are so very nice to work with and that makes me feel lucky to be doing what I do. 

This entryway was for one of those families. I went on to design and build other doors, mantels, bathroom cabinets, book shelves, chandeliers and architectural details. My clients have a special love for Country French design and want to surround themselves in that rich tradition.

The entry is the first thing that greets you when you arrive at a home and I want that entry to express who the family is. This entry is made of beautiful warm solid walnut, it's very thick with heavy 18th century moulding and carved details. The matching side lites have fused glass that I made in my kiln. I leaned the technique by experimenting for over a year to replicate some 18th century antique glass panels that I saw in another client's home. We made the heavy ornamental tip hinges and the lock and handle set came from France. I made all the detailing the same, inside and out, so that you enjoy the entry from the moment you walk in the door to the times you walk through the home. From the kitchen to the living room to the bedrooms you pass the entryway and can enjoy it's beauty continuously.

Above: All the carving you see is done by me, by hand.  

Above:  More hand carving.

Above:  Fused glass design done in my kiln. 

Above: View from the inside. Just as beautiful as the outside.