My Story part 1

This week I will start off with something new, something difficult. I will tell my story. In pieces. Kinda like Tarantino it a bit.

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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.

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Riding up to the market with freshly foraged prickly Pears.

 

Coronado Neighborhood

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.

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The Hive.

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

Welcome

Welcome To My Chaos

 

 

Building Bridges!

Building Bridges from Phoenix to Brooklyn to Ghent.

In early spring I was Given an opportunity to travel to NYC, no real plans of what to do how to do it. So I packed  some clothes, a few tools and a couple of journals and headed out. This is a long story so I will break it up into a few Blog post, Kinda Tarantino it up a little. So first up will be Ghent, I spent a month working on a small 1840’s farm house where I would Build a bridge, work on a bathroom and try and find a few commissions. It was a large property with a 1840’s farm house, 7 or so out buildings and a stream through the west side. Which brings us to part one…

The Bridge.

The farm was the site of an old water powered saw mill, for the turbine powered mill they had build a sluice way, this created a fork in the stream, which created an “island” that would need a bridge. Using wood left over from when the saw mill was torn down, some found steel water pipes and some new steel I set off to build a bridge. The inspiration was from many places but, mostly a bridge crossing the Hudson near Kinderhook,NY.

Stream and a pile of wood.

Inspiration from Kinderhook,NY

Stream and Matthews studio

Building a bridge on dry land.

The stream and one piece at a time.

The Bridge is set.

Next in the series will be the farm, The Greater Hudson Museum of antiquated Farm equipment at Ghent, Why T is the man, and Industrial Craftsman Furniture East, also Known as Joe’s Garage.

The Buttes!!!

Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes

Three months ago I was asked to sketch up a few designs for the Buttes and see about building a few new tables for their patio. They liked what I presented. After a few meetings and conversations I started the build out. Working with some local saw mills (and one in Oregon), I set out to find the perfect wood. I chose many varieties: Black Acacia, three types of Mesquite, White Ash, Arizona Elm, Oregon Cottonwood, Maple, Grenadino, and Aleppo Pine. Next, I set out to design the bases, using 1 1/2 and 2″ square tube steel with wood inserts, one adjustable.  I trussed them in four unique ways using some custom iron, antique fence pieces, some bar stock and some unique craftsmanship.  Each table base is its own while following a common theme, so they match without being the same.  For the wood, I used some live edge and free forms, as well as cut some square.  By following the nature in each piece, the tops formed themselves into color and shape, contrast that gives the pieces even more dimension. The rustic, clean look fits well with the modern restaurant architecture set in rocks amidst a cactus garden.  Being given so much artistic freedom this project embodies the Industrial Craftsman style. 

Urban Lumber!

‘What is Urban Lumber?’ you may ask… Think of all the unique and interesting trees people grow here in the Valley. Then think about all the downed trees you see during monsoon season, when someone has to remove a tree because of where it’s growing.  Where do these trees go?  To the dump?  To the mulch or compost farm?  Why not to a local saw mill where they can be turned into lumber?  On my quest for new and different wood for a project, I found three sources of just that, lumber made from trees that grew in the city.  Imagine all the exotic hardwoods you could ever want grown right near home, no more cutting down the rainforest or national park near you, and the hardwoods are amazing.  I found Maple (from Oregon), Arizona Ash, Elm, Cottonwood, Black Acacia, and four types of Mesquite so different in color that it’s hard to believe they were the same type of tree. Talk about sustainable Local, Handmade, furniture built from renewable and beautiful wood.

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About me.

Hi everyone, I’m Bill Hemphill, the Industrial Craftsman.

Every piece of ICF furniture is handbuilt by me in a small studio at my cottage in Downtown Phoenix.

 

The Industrial Craftsman story begins at a time when I was a union carpenter, and as the recession hit, I became a stay-at-home dad with two babies.

While helping a friend on a Micro Dwell (tiny house) concept, I was invited to start a small cactus nursery in the parking lot of his art gallery, known as The Hive. Aside from tending these plants, I built furniture from alley scraps that I found on my way to work. One day while foraging, I came across a unique wood table, it was really old and well built. I discovered it was a Gustav Stickley circa 1910! This led me to study his work, where I found so many themes I could relate to, including— a man should enjoy his work, nature should be valued, and workers are craftsman. Inspired by the clean lines and use of quality materials.

 

So I began to study the turn of the century Craftsman Movement, from Macintosh and William Morris, to Greene and Greene and Stickley. I found myself not only drawn to the design but also to the underlying philosophy of quality, simplicity, craftsmanship and usefulness of each piece. My nursery became more and more a workshop, until it no longer fit my art gallery surroundings. I did some great work and moved my shop to a newfound home at the cottages. I continue to build and study, finding some success. My style began to evolve from furniture of scraps to something that truly resembled the Craftsman Movement. Although while still using repurposed material, it became something different, neither Industrial nor Craftsman, but something in the middle, like “Gustav Stickley with a welder”. That’s how the Industrial Craftsman style was born.

 

We’re at a time and place in the world where we can no longer afford to be wasteful by buying disposable furniture. The Industrial Craftsman Movement is about taking back the craft by putting it in the hands of the worker, while creating a quality product that lasts several lifetimes.

 

My philosophy is to deliver high-quality, custom, handmade furniture that serves the businesses and residents of my community. Because of its simple design and diversity of materials, I can create a beautiful piece to fit any budget. I aspire to have a piece of furniture in every home and business in my neighborhood, and I’m off to a good start.

 

 

 

 

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Zoo Micro Nursery

 

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Early inlay

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Early table, Found base, bowling lane top.

 

 

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Early table and cactus planter.

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One of the first “craftsman”inspired tables.

 

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Newer Industrial Craftsman style. Complete with signature W.

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The Boys.

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The boys and I.

 

 

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Much happier me. (photo credit Miss Bane)

 

1 Year Anniversary of Welcome Chicken + Doughnuts !!!!!!

A little over a year ago I was approached to do my largest project to-date. Welcome Diner was opening a new concept and needed a counter, 2 picnic tables, 11 benches, 8 table tops and a bike rack and… oh, a door handle. Using glue-lam beams, some steel and some style, I collaborated with Sloan McFarland  to  create something beautiful and slightly more modern than my furniture is normally.  Today, as Miss Bane and I had a doughnut, I felt proud to have been a part of such a great spot  on the Phoenix food scene. The Furniture still looks great, the food is AMAZING and the relationships with the people there are as important as the work we did. It is my personal goal to serve my community with beautiful, affordable, quality furniture. Thank you Welcome family for letting me be a part of your world.

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Miss Bane’s Bed!

After a year of a mattress on the floor, Miss Bane finally convinced me to build her a bed (she says it is ours).   It is made of new steel, a Clarendon Hotel balcony rail, reclaimed redwood, and some very serious bolts.  The wooden feet allow it to move easily on tile scratch-free.  The dramatically  tall height gives it an “Alice in Wonderland” feel.  I find myself inspired by Moorish tile work, so I put a “star of squares” in it.  With such solid construction, the bed is completely “rock free”.  Beds start around $900 (minus Moorish stars).

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Nice reclaimed redwood and Carriage bolts soften the appearance.

 

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Gusseted frame with serious bolts prevent “rocking”.

 

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Moorish 8 sided star represents harmony and balance. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Detail of star. (+ cat tail)