Looking back, As 2020 causes a pause for many of us including myself and my work I thought it would be a beautiful time to look back and reflect on how I got here. Industrial Craftsman furniture began as a part of Z00 Micro- nursery in 2013 I was building furniture out of the various things I would find in Alley’s and I bulk trash pickup around Phoenix.
Ménage LeBlanc working with what’s around you making something beautiful out of garbage showing that there is intrinsic value and honest materials.
The style was simple the material told me what it was going to be, very little design went into the process, if I had a foot long piece of steel I was going to have a foot tall table, if I had a 3 foot wood top how is going to have a coffee table or maybe a bench simple things just to get the feel of building without too much pressure because pressure can stifle creativity ./
The tiny table was born from a pile of 1 foot scrap dumped off in a wheelbarrow fence cut offs 1 in.² tubing the collection was called plus or minus one cubic foot it was also in this time love bench was designed the idea being I could create a fluid space where benches and tables could be moved around as people came and went.
It was during this time there is also practical work coffee tables, bars for local restaurants planters, everything was very real, very honest very raw is a Raw period Of my life I was doing a lot of healing by showing the value of discarded objects things people did not value but that were valuable and beautiful and just required a little bit of putting back together.
All in all there are about 50 pieces of work from from period, you can see one of the three bars on the patio grand Avenue pizza company, the second bar was there until third space closed a year and 1/2 ago, the table with the green egg and it is on the patio of Lola coffee most of the other works are in private collections and homes across the valley, it was a really mixed bag working with what was available some of the pieces were truly beautiful and some were little loss much like me in that. My hope is as you see the growth and change they represent.
Every once and a while I get to build something truly amazing. When Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza asks if you can build something…The only answer is yes. Anything you need. A chef who needs no introduction, creating a community on the Calle based around Localism, Culture and a love of community, Silvana has elevated the Phoenix food scene to an National and International level.
I took the challenge seriously in 12 days from paper until delivery I built the smoker completely by hand. This uniquely designed smoker is built 3/16th plate steel, and weighs close to a ton. Hand fitting each piece I fabricated the box and grill first, adding in shelf supports that act as a “Skeleton” to prevent warping. The shelves are removable and set on a rack underneath. The latches are hand made and lock tight. The handles are mesquite and feature my signature W.
The doors are also framed out and double walled keeping heat off the doors. The fire box is lined with fire bricks. The smoke stack is brutalist inspired and has a handle for adjustment from the ground.
Big thanks to D-Rock, My Dad, JJ and Jeff.
Silvana, Wendy and the Barrio Family.
Amazing Sun God Mural By Angel Diaz.
And always my loving Miss Bane without who none of this happens/
Made of barnwood and heavily inspired by the craftsman movement Spring Collection 2018 is comprised of 15 individual pieces, in 3 sets.
Side table, bench, plant stand, end table, tiny table. Wood types include Red Oak, Cedar, tipanu, and Douglas Fir.
This will be my third complete collection of Furniture.
Whether in a large Dining Room, Conference Room or Patio. A large solid wood slab table makes a big statement.
Ponderosa Pine and steel table 11’8″ x42″ Claekdale,AZ
Elegant and graceful this table commands attention. It graces the dining room of a Model Home in Clarkdale, Arizona and can be Viewed at Vineyards on 89A.
We have a picnic Table
At twelve feet long this amazing Himalayan Ceder beauty comfortably seats 10 hungry pizza fans…And Carson Wheeler of Grand avenue Pizza never disappoints. (Visit this table @ http://www.grandavenuepizzacompany.com/)
Like a Boss
Want the “Home court advantage? Invite your clients to sit at this beauty. At four feet by almost ten feet this Colibah and Arizona Ash Beauty commands respect. While the geometry exhibits style and sophistication.
At a little over twelve feet this amazing Sequoia Table comfortably fits more family, than most find comfortable. But, Matt and Sarah never seem to mind, they will this beauty quite often, With festive friends and family, wonderful food and good company…
As I sit typing this from my own “stickley” Table, Lets discuss his influence on American culture and Furniture. Many people are familiar with the term “Craftsman” it invokes of bungalows and Historic neighborhoods, or maybe “Sears craftsman” But, how exactly did it become a movement in Art, Architecture, Design? One so ingrained in American society to be easily recognizable?
Steel inlay carved into my Stickley table.
One man did much of the heavy lifting, borrowing from Morris’ British “Arts and Crafts” , Gustav Sickley designed and built fine furniture made by men, not machines. It was intentionally simple, the beauty was in the honesty of materials and joinery. the complexity in the materials and methods, not in “False adornment”. It was real, solid wood, with quality joinery and functional designs.
My very real Stickley table I found in an alley, that led me to instigate “Arts and Crafts”
Stickley was also responsible for the publication of the iconic “American Craftsman” magazine which along with discussions on the current methods of wood and steel working, design trends and trade discussions. It also featured heavy political discussions of the day, he published works by Anarchist, Socialists and Libertarians. He saw a worker, as a craftsman who created a value and a beauty to society.
As Stickley was so am I committed to the honesty, and natural beauty of the materials, designs and workmanship. To Truly become an American Craftsman…Life is so short, the craft so long to learn…
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia to fill in the blanks…
Stickley’s new furniture reflected his ideals of simplicity, honesty in construction, and truth to materials. Unadorned, plain surfaces were enlivened by the careful application of colorants so as not to obscure the grain of the wood and mortise and tenon joinery was exposed to emphasize the structural qualities of the works. Hammered metal hardware, in armor-bright polished iron or patinated copper emphasized the handmade qualities of furniture which was fabricated using both handworking techniques and modern woodworking machinery within Stickley’s Eastwood, New York, factory (now a part of Syracuse, New York). Dyed leather, canvas, terry cloth and other upholstery materials complemented the designs.
Those ideals – simplicity, honesty, truth – were reflected in his trademark, which includes the Flemish phrase Als Ik Kan inside a joiner’s compass. The phrase is generally translated ‘to the best of my ability.’
His firm’s work, both nostalgic in its evocation of handicraft and the pre-industrial era and proto-modern in its functional simplicity, was popularly referred to as being in the Mission style, though Stickley despised the term as misleading. In 1903 he changed the name of his company again, to the Craftsman Workshops, and began a concerted effort to market his works – by then including furniture as well as textiles, lighting, and metalwork – as Craftsman products. Ultimately, over 100 retailers across the United States represented the Craftsman Workshops.
This week I will start off with something new, something difficult. I will tell my story. In pieces. Kinda like Tarantino it a bit.
Photo by Niba Delcastillo
Without them I would not be doing what I do today, Building beautiful, sustainable furniture.
Phoenix Public Market
Lets start at the Phoenix Public Market where I learned the importance of sustainability while helping set up “The Community Exchange Table”. In between checking in/out the produce of local gardeners, small farmers, urban foragers etc., we dug into Permaculture, Sustainability and Community at its very core, and explored how everything we did impacted our environment. Both good and bad.
Riding up to the market with freshly foraged prickly Pears.
The burgeoning Coronado neighborhood as community was growing, so were connections, opportunity, and idea. I had stumbled on this gem of a neighborhood while registering people to vote in 2004, only to return in late ’07 and buy a house. A beautiful neighborhood just outside downtown Phoenix proper, where neighbors are friends and community is strong. With lots of new homes being remodeled I would bike through the alleyways foraging for wood and steel, I would “dumpster dive” and find beautiful hard woods. I even found the Stickley Table that is now in my own living room.
While volunteering on an art installation at the Shemer Art Center, I connected with a wonderful man I call “yoda”. Yoda and Julia had an amazing art space on 16th street or as we call it “Calle 16”. In early 2013 Yoda invited me for a sort of residency where I would tend a Cactus nursery and build some things out of my dumpster scores. It was a 20’x30′ space that had formerly been the parking lot: no roof, no shade, just an endless supply of time and creativity. This would be know as “My Chaos” or officially as Zoo Micro Nursery. Which is where my story begins. 2013 The Hive
I am very proud to present Tiny Tables Series 5. William Morris said,”Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” and I believe Series 5 fits the bill for both.
New hand made adjuster.
Series 5 represents natural beauty, rebirth, and hope. Its construction is based on a butterfly sculpture I have been working on, and the legs mirror the angles I use for wings. Combined with all repurposed materials, Series 5 will be recreated over-and-over using a variety of materials while keeping the design the same.
Tiny Table S5
#2 features solid steel top.
#1 and #3 feature an x-ray cartridge
New hand made adjuster.
Series 5 #1 and #3 feature removable X-ray cartridge tops as well as a handmade adjustor and walnut feet.
Dimensions 11″ x 13″ x 20″ // Price $113
#2 features solid steel top.
Series 5 #2 has a reclaimed steel top, eye bolt adjustor.
One of my favorite things about making each piece individually by hand is how different and unique each piece really is. From the materials I am using, to the way I feel, and the designs that are in my head. Each piece is a truly unique experience, and a great way to watch the evolution is through the tiny tables. Let’s look back at the evolution of tiny tables.
These are from the first series of Tiny Tables. Under the ZOO name, this was an original set of ten, built at The Hive Phoenix. Do you have one?
Series two Tiny Tables were slightly larger due to the barn wood I was using at the time. All steel was “Urban Foraged”. There were originally five in this series, made under the ZOO label, and built at the Hive Phoenix. Do you have one?
Series three was similar to series one, but were numbered 1-12.
Series four tiny tables were the first under the new ‘Industrial Craftsman Furniture” label, featured a stenciled W on the bottom and were part of a full collection called “Industrial Revolution”. There were 3 of each piece in this collection, the first collection built at “the cottages”…
This series included 5 pieces and were cut offs from the patio tables I did for the Tempe Buttes Marriott. They were built at the cottages and were the first to feature a carved-W signature instead of spray paint stencilled.
Two Tiny tables and a saw blade table I built In Ghent NY.
As you can see, over time my style has developed and changed. There are many more “Tiny tables” out there but I do not always get/keep photos. Do you have one? Post a photo.