Elevating the Outliers
Inspiring people with one-of-a-kind pieces
Wood & Glass
When we bring the beauty of a tree into our daily life, we introduce a physical reminder of the incredible beauty in the struggle to be our true selves. Burl wood is not structurally sound, so loggers are taught to leave it where it falls to rot, and if it makes it to the sawmill, it is burned. We think burl wood deserves much more.
We learned how to cut and finish them by experimenting with cherry burls from Kirk’s property in Grantsville, Maryland. Now loggers across Western Maryland are helping us search.. About half of what we find are rotten in the middle. Half of these are simply not that interesting. About a quarter crack when they dry and can’t be recovered. This leaves us with about 6% of the burl wood we started with, but the stunning one-of-a-kind results make all the effort worth it.
Such work is only possible by being involved in every step of the 2-year process, from raw burl to finished piece. Distinctly different in scale and grain pattern from the monster burls of the West Coast, we are constantly entranced by the process. To us, the same erratic growth that makes burls trash to most makes them treasures to us.
While the process of bending wood is straightforward (hook 2 wallpaper steamers to a long box with wood inside), its typical application for chairs using white oak (which bends very easily but has no grain character) left me un-inspired.
Then one day I tried to bend a piece of figured cherry. It didn’t bend the way I wanted it to, but the color tones and grain patterns were much closer to what I had wished to achieve.
As the piles of rejects grew deeper, our ability to listen to the wood during those first critical moments of bending improved. While a lot of attempts still fail, our use of figured and curly wood immediately sets us apart.
By its nature, the pieces are 3-dimensional, so why hide half the beauty? A backing mirror makes almost the entire piece of wood visible, with this perspective changing as you gaze at it from different angles.
Like everything we do, there is a lot of failure throughout this process that no one but us ever sees. The pieces don’t always dry like I hoped. Sanding wood that behaves more like a hungry snake is a challenge, and at these thicknesses, losing focus for just a moment can ruin the entire piece. Getting the twists and arcs just right is always perplexing, as is the translation of these holes into the mirror without scratching it is another round of acrobatics.
Is it fun and rewarding — absolutely! This type of work is all about trying to entice the wood to change in a way you were hoping for, while listening as it transforms and fights back.
These are big and bold and beautiful.
Glass & Glass
Glass is timeless, and resides at the core of what we do. Glass is where our journey began more than 30 years ago, and our skills (and humbleness) in working with glass continue to improve every day. Through our kiln-work, use of gilding, and collaboration with a glass manufacturer, we are able to create pieces that you are not likely to find anywhere else.