I had a client ask me the other day why I call myself the wood redeemer, she asked if I used pallets to make my pieces. I told her that was how I started but have moved on to different materials, mediums, and methods. She said her friend also makes furniture from reclaimed wood like I do and sent me a picture of a pallet with wheels that had been painted white and was starting a new life as a coffee table. I did my best to explain what I do, and the purpose behind it all, I don’t know if she understood it, afterwards I was thinking about why I’m so passionate about my job and this is what I came up with.
The Aztec people when building their city’s and temples used no animals to help them they did it all by human power, no wheels or pulleys just 1000’s of people toiling and sweating. They did this because they believed to honor and please their Gods they had to put in effort, time and work, I feel the same way about the wood I “reclaim” or “redeem”. I’ll spend hours even days sanding, (sometimes by hand) cutting, routing, polishing, staining and painting an old piece of wood that I found on the side of the road rather than simply going and spending $20 on the same wood at Home Depot, why? Not because its “free” Lord knows between the time and the money I spend in my monthly sandpaper budget. It’s not because I love getting dirty (although I do) it’s not because I enjoy smelling like a burnt tire in an elderly persons closet either. Believe it or not its not because I enjoy the holes all over my hands from splinters, the constant presence of spiders or termites, its not even because of the coughing fits the sun rotted dust particles cause. It’s because each of my pieces, every single one takes a bunch of sweat most of the times blood, and on rare occasion a few tears that you won’t find in a piece of lumber from a big box store. They take time and effort and determination and most of all they take love, if I didn’t love every person I make a piece for I would just run down to Lowe’s and spend a few bucks on wood to get the piece done and get paid. No, to me it’s that effort that makes a piece special, special enough that someone wants hang something I made in their home and it will be looked at daily – to me that’s very special, an honor. Redeeming wood isn’t putting wheels on an existing piece of wood – that’s simply reusing, redeeming means changing everything about that material so when its done you can’t imagine it was something that someone threw away, everything deserves a second chance at life. Anyone can make a table from nice new oak, it’s not too tough to make something beautiful from something beautiful, but to make something just as beautiful from something labeled as garbage is an art in itself. In my world the most beautiful things are the ones that have been restored, the ones you put the most time and effort in to, not the ones that cost the most. The pictured piece is made from a 1/2 sheet of plywood some one had dumped on the side of the road, one if my best friends Renny dropped it off so decided to make him a piece from it, the frame is from an old redwood fence post I had found during one of my wood finding expeditions. I used water down paints in the engraved “love” to make swirls like water in a river. This piece cost about $5 to produce but it took me about 20 hours from start to finish, and now that old plywood and 4×4 get a new start – a new life… They’ve been redeemed.
I’ve been a full-time artist for 6 years and in Yuma for almost 3 years, I started doing carvings right about a year ago, I have 0 art related education not even an art class – I’m self taught, whick kinda gives me my own style instead of a mentors. to put it simply I’m just a big kid that like to paint, and somehow I got lucky enough to make a job out of it.
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