Beautiful furniture from reclaimed materials
With most woodworkers looking back 100 years or more for inspiration, I often wonder where furniture-making is headed. In an increasingly mass-produced world, will we ever see a definable furniture “period” emerge again, or will the world continue to buy cheaply made products and pitch them into landfills?And what kind of furniture-making will captivate tomorrow’s generations? Somehow I doubt it will be yesterday’s dovetailed, wood-only approach. And maybe that is just fine.
An answer to all of those questions is emerging in a trend toward taking old, discarded materials and reclaiming them to make new pieces of useful art. Look at Make Magazine for lots of examples, and then Google “steampunk” to discover a whole other approach to making something new from the past.
My favorite example of this trend is happening in New Orleans, where an up-and-coming furniture show, called “Salvations,” is up to 50 entries this year, each made from reclaimed and salvaged materials. The winners haven’t been picked yet, but the organizers let me show a few of my favorites. Look for one or two in a future issue of FWW magazine.
Some are just knocked together, with an emphasis on concept over craftsmanship, and some of you won’t like a furniture approach that favors art over utiility, but I find the work thought-provoking. I’d love to have a few of these pieces in my house, and I’m tempted to build some myself. Are you?
Also, do you think this emerging trend (if it is one) could coalesce into something solid and “sustainable”? I look forward to your comments.
Matthew Holdren built "The Kerlerec Desk" from recycled heart-pine floor boards. The drawer knobs are porcelain insulators from old electrical wiring.
William Roberts built "Bone Bench" from plywood salvaged from construction sites.
John Robert Portman built "Lather's Table" from lath boards used in old walls.
David Bergeron built this versatile cabinet, called "Books or Booze?", from beadboard he pulled from a trash pile.
"Four Legends Console" is a collaboration by Benjamin Bullins and Linda Berman. There are found objects in the base, and the top is raku-fired low-relief sculpture with images of jazz legends.
Ross Lunz built this chair, called "Mobile," from discarded street signs.
F. Scott Greenfield started with an old B&W picture of an oil refinery when he built this bench, called "ReFinery." Also in the backrest is flocked wallpaper and balusters from torn-down houses. The rest of the bench is made from red pine from old barges.
John Robert Portman also made this framed, illuminated wall piece, called 2914 Royal Street.