Entries in wood (36)


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!


A Mantle with Deer in the Forest in Utah

Recently I wrote several blogs about a family lodge in the remote mountains near Park City, Utah. One was about a hand-carved guest house entryway designed with a fox, and the other was the main house entryway designed with Sand Hill cranes. This blog is about the mantle I designed and built for the same home. 

It's made of solid walnut, with three deer (two doe and a fawn) standing on a hill at the edge of the forest looking out below them. The deer are mule deer, native to the surrounding mountains. In the design I created a strong contrast between the flat surface and the heavy relief on the right side. The contrast gives a dynamic that I like, and the surface that is free of carving gives a place to imagine the vast forest below and to wonder what it is that the deer are listening to. 

I shipped the mantle to Utah, and since I wasn't there to install it myself I only have photos of it taken from inside my shop.


A Tropical Master Bath

Above:  Filigree hand carving of tropical leaf design on master bathroom entry door

This project stemmed from the homeowner's love of palms. He is fascinated by palms and has been collecting and planting them for years. I believe the property this home is located on has one of the largest collection of palms in San Diego.  Each palm has an identification marker, and lines the trails on his hilltop home. He is a contractor who has many interests besides palms, including hiking, playing the piano and the harp, and a keen interest in history. But palms are his main interest and much of the inside design of his home reflects that. I designed and built his front entryway, incorporating a tropical theme, and so when he asked me to design his master bathroom I planned to stay with the same tropical style. 

The master bathroom vanity is made of solid Granadillo, a beautiful wood that compares to Brazilian Rosewood. At the time, I had a great wood supplier who only bought permitted trees at a local saw mill in Mexico. To say this wood is beautiful is an understatement. It is also a very hard wood, requiring special joinery. 

I went with a contemporary design, keeping with the tropical details so as to fit with the surrounding property and my client's passion with his palms. The door going into the bathroom is very unique. It is made in solid Jatoba with a hand-carved filigree pattern of tropical leaves. The homeowners wanted some privacy but also air circulation, and I immediately thought of doing a filigreed panel. It was the perfect design, able to be viewed and enjoyed from the inside as well as the outside of the bathroom. The mirrors are also hand-carved, using the leaf pattern once again.

Getting away from the usual and standard home styles is something I really enjoy, and on this project I was able to use my creative imagination and abilities, along with my client's desires, to come up with something out of the ordinary, a master bathroom like no other. 



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. 


Fox Entryway in Utah

I was commissioned to design and build the main house entry, the guest house entry and a carved mantel, all out of solid walnut, for a fantastic mountain retreat being built in Utah. This blog is about the guest house front entryway.

The owner saw a photo of the fox door on my website that I had carved many years ago and wanted something similar. I never repeat my designs exactly, rather I take a design and change it to reflect each client and their surroundings where the home is. In this case the mountains of Utah and the foxes and trees that would be seen in that area. I also incorporated 1/2" thick carved and fused glass techniques, something I didn't use in the other fox entry door.

Walnut is one of several woods I love carving because it's hard, firm grain allows great detail, and it's a stable and beautiful wood. 

Before drawing the full-scale of a carved entryway with specific characteristics, I study the components of the design using photos taken from the area and other reference books that I have in my library. In this case, I used those studies for the fox, trees, and landscape to be able to carve and express the feeling of the fox and the trees that I am putting in my work. I do this with every project no matter how detailed or simple it is. The challenge of carving the fox is to express the feeling or expression of the fox, giving "life" to my sculpture, and not just carving the shapes.

For the glass art, I fire a pallet of all the colors I plan on using in the design in my kiln to make sure they will turn out exactly right for the project. Sound complicated? Yes, but that's what I love!