Alamo Hardwoods Blog
Paris Doors, Continued
You know what this is, doncha?Paris is one of the most walkable cities in the world for a tourist.
Something special hides in most every corner. One could spend a lifetime wandering the streets and still feel like there's more to see. Most artists talk about light and their work. It's plain to see what magic can occur at any moment as thing change form hour to hour.
OOooooooo, Fancy! White Oak Door showing ammonia fuming to emphasize grain and flake pattern "I always feel like, somebody's watching meeeee....." So this is like the Versace of doors?
Posted by JR Huebinger on 27th January, 2015 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: doors, details, travel, white oak, wood, Paris
Tags: history, historic district, travel, wood, paris, restoration woods, restoration millwork, doors, Historic Preservation | Historic homes | historic building re-use
Paris Part 1
Travel allows one to see everyday things in a new light, breaking free from the standard, mechanical routine we often become hypnotized by. Here are some impressions of Paris, walking around only days before the recent events. The sun breaks through and there are moments of serenity found all over. Enjoy.
Painted wooden door in the Hotel de Sully White Oak door showing decades of weathering in Paris Does one fight the elements with maintenance, or allow the years to show? A deep overhang and maintenance make a noticeable difference, take note, architects Like snowflakes, every door is different, showing the taste of the owner, and the skill of the designer and carpenter
Posted by JR Huebinger on 24th January, 2015 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: Paris, doors, wood, white oak, travel
Tags: alamo hardwoods, travel, historic, wood, doors, paris
Kerrvile Furniture Show, The Winners!
!"Sorry to leave you readers hanging for so long as to the winners of the Kerrville Furniture Maker's show (of course, you COULD have just gone to their website http://www.texasfurnituremakersshow.com/
if you were truly that curious)
The judging was quite difficult and there was much discussion about what should be the criteria for one piece to be considered superior to another. We agreed that machine labor should not be punished versus hand labor. Some pieces received extra points for creativity and the "I've never seen that before" credits. In some instances, it came down to the judges running their hands around underneath a piece to check for the finish quality in the nooks and crannies. Many pieces were downgraded by their poorly applied finishes that hid the wood quality under thick, goopy poly-plasti-ure-tex.
One judge recounted how one evening at ten o'clock one of his female clients called him to say that she was sitting in bed, reading, just stroking the surface of a side table he had made for her. (Lesson woodworkers, it's all in the surface treatment! it sounds like it can even get you dates!)
Each category allowed for us to find a piece that exemplified that particular category as a fairly clear winner, then the real work started. How do you compare apples to oranges and declare one to be superior? Should a flash of creativity be valued over obvious months of pure labor? (hint, in America, yes)
In the end, we made our selections and the announcements were made.
Interestingly, once the veils were lifted and the names were revealed there were MANY familiar faces for me at the show. The Two art pieces, the rib chair and the tower drawer were actually made with Alamo Hardwoods lumber (Iknew I smelled quality!)
One judge announced "If you didn't get an award, just blame the judges!" , which was fine for him. He got on a plane the next day!
I had to live with all these people. And the next morning we had a critique, where each maker had the chance to learn just what we liked (and didn't) about their pieces. Imagine the Nuremburg trials....
The Announcement (You can feel the tension, right?) "You are here" Texas Mesquite Campaign Table with Modern Mesquite Table in background Texas Table by Berdoll Sawmill and FUrniture Modern Art Furniture White Oak Bench Winning Modern Bench THE WINNAH!!!!!
Bent Ash Chair
Posted by JR Huebinger on 22nd January, 2015 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: art furniture, art, Kerrville, local furniture, modern, wood
Tags: Kerrville, art, art furniture, wood furniture reproduction historic, contemporary wood furniture
Kerrville Texas Furniture Maker's Show
The Kerrville Arts Center, Housed in the Old Post Office Designed by Ayres and AyresJr Huebinger, Assoc AIA. was recently honored by being asked to judge the Kerrville Texas Furniture Maker's Show. (ongoing until Nov. 29 so hurry out there!)
With a bachelor's of Architecture and a lifetime of handling and specifying wood for furniture and buildings, I felt fairly qualified to look at custom, hand made furniture with a critical eye.
I traveled to the thriving metropolis of the hill country, Kerrville (pop 30000) the night before to meet with my fellow judges and walk through the show space. The Arts Center is housed in the 1940's Post Office, designed by well known San Antonio architecture firm Ayres and Ayres. Having worked on many of their houses and buildings before (I was actually baptized in an Atlee Ayres designed church) I could feel Robert's hand all over this space. The white oak molding and paneling are remarkably well preserved. My fellow judges were both mature furniture makers and teachers so they understood every cut that had been made.
On the initial walk through, the quality and high level of craftsmanship was evident and very impressive. In many pieces the hours and weeks of work were clearly evident. The casual observer would find the lines or colors striking, the design pleasing or not, but I had a job to do. I had to put aside my personal preferences ( now where in the house could I squeeze in that super cool multi wood bent bench?!) and evaluate the craftsmanship and finish first, then the design aspects. While I appreciated the pair of side tables and lamps that clearly belonged on the set of the new Austin Powers movie for their fun factor, did the hand work match up to it's competitors?
The next morning we returned for the hard work. We went piece by piece and debated how much work was evident and how well executed each piece was. Did the finish help or hurt the piece? (in many cases the finish really knocked a piece down a few notches) How much time had been spent on the piece? We had no names but only a brief written description of each piece to guide us. Sometimes the description told a story that was not easily evident in the piece. What appeared to be plywood, was actually hand sliced and laid out veneer! A wood that was a mystery to the other two judges (but I had seen a few times before) turned out to be Chinaberry, an imported landscape tree from Asia that few people love. The more we debated, the more difficult the work turned out to be.
To find out the winners, you'll just have to come back for the next blog post!
White Oak Details by the Firm of Ayres and Ayres Multi-Colored Woods Showing Off their Natural Beauty Austin Power's Bedroom Furniture Dangerous Furniture (Or is it Art?) How did He DO that? Stipple Carved Texas Mesquite Bench Chinaberry wood table
Posted by JR Huebinger on 17th November, 2014 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: Kerrville, Texas, local furniture, art furniture, craftsman
Tags: Texas, Kerrville, Art, Furniture, handmade, wood, alamo hardwoods, modern design, wood art
Ancient sculpture with Colonial Church Mexico exemplifies the clash and melding of cultures that is the "New World". Upon arrival, the intent was to take the people who had been here for thousands of years and "convert" them to Christianity for the good of the crown. To drive home the point of who was now in charge, any holy spot was targeted for colonial construction in the image of Spanish architecture. The details will sometimes pop out from the strangest of places. A piece of stone reused here and there.
Each architectural fashion from Europe has crashed over the shores like a wave. The high French fashion was imported for the most expensive houses in the most fashionable neighborhoods. The materials available were put to use in the newest trends: inlaid floors etc.
Sometimes a structure took SO long to build, that by the time they had completed it, fashion had changed. Such is the case with the Palace of Fine Arts known as Bellas Artes. The exterior screams the "Belle Epoque", dripping in more marble than one can imagine. But enter the gilded doors, and suddenly forty years have passed and the interior is the height of fashion in the Art Deco style straight off the Paris runways! Marble shines under the glow from frosted Lalique style frozen light "fountains". Yet the color palette of the marble is radically different. Gone is the fluffy wedding cake, replaced by dark chocolate slabs.
And that repressed native culture? The Aztec gods Tlaloc and Chaac make cameo appearances in the ornamentation as gargoyle !
Colonial Convent in Coyoacan French Empire Style Imported Bellas Artes Bellas Artes, Art Deco Interior Dome of Bellas Artes Art Deco Detailing in the most "humble" of places Ancient Culture Resurfaces
Posted by JR Huebinger on 5th August, 2014 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: cross cultures, history, travel, Mexico, ancient, modern, wood, details
James Hammons, Guest Blogger
Guest Blogger James Hammons, UTSA Architecture studentThe dialogue between man and wood is more perhaps revered and esteemed than any other material. It is a love that can be attributed to its characteristic materiality. Wood has a unique warmth and charm because its nature allows us to very easily understand it and its relationship with the forces of nature.
The simplest to understand is time. Sure, other materials age, but the rust of steel and crumbling of concrete lend only a vision of degradation as time moves on. The message of these materials is singular and simple; man's conquering of nature, as if such a thing could be done. However, even the most basic understanding of the properties of wood lends not only a relationship of time, but knowledge of the place life has in time.
A cross section of a tree shows us the way the tree has been formed by time and adaptation. We can understand age, drought, climate, etc. A milled board is capable of enticing any thought or emotion. The smell of cedar might bring back a distant memory. Grain might spur a thought about nature and order. A natural edge cut slab might bring feelings of awe and peace. Perhaps this is why, when used expressively, wood resonates so perfectly and so naturally with the human soul.
James Hammons, UTSA Architecture student, guest blogger
Posted by James Hammons on 18th July, 2014 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: guest, student, wood, details
Tags: architecture students, wood art, Alamo Hardwood San Antonio, UTSA Architecture Students
Mexico Modern (3 of 3)
Chair in Mexico City Chapultepec Castle, Historic Yet Modern lookingMexico is a country of extreme contrasts. It has an ancient heritage to rival anywhere in the world, a powerful Spanish Colonial background planted directly atop the ancient cities, and a love of all things modern and new. This forward thinking manifests itself in the works of architects like Luis Barragan, Pedro Ramirez Vasquez and Ricardo Legorreta. The result is a complex blending of ancient materials and techniques in a fresh, new direction. Pattern and texture take over from ancient, repetitive motifs such as acanthus leaves. The materials are made to sing of their own accord, without the obvious forced hand of manmade design. Each block of a floor becomes a work of art in it's own right.
The new world woods such as Mesquite show their strength and durability for flooring and furniture. The most important lesson is, if one is to rely on clean modern design, you better splurge for some decent fancy material to look at!
Door Carving in Queretaro Decorative Border in Parquet Flooring, Casa Lamm, Colonia Roma, Mexico City Parquet Floor, Sanborn's Casa de los Azulejos, Mexico City Mesquite Herringbone Pattern in Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City End Grain Block Flooring, National Anthropology Museum Mexico City Unusual Pattern in Camino Real Hotel, Mexico City
Posted by JR on 11th March, 2014 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: cross cultures, flooring, travel, history
Tags: history, mexico, mexican traditional woods, flooring, historic preservation
Mexico, Colonial (Part 2 of 3)
Mexico City Colonial Building
When we last left our heros, the tribes of Mexico had created great cities. Whole civilizations had come and gone, leaving astounding ruined cities.
Then the new neighbors showed up. With the arrival of Europeans, things changed a little bit, to put it mildly. Now back in Europe, most forests had been cut and regrown many, many times since the Roman era. There were no "Old" trees to be had and people still talked about the famous ancient "Cedars of Lebanon" (a juniper relative, see aromatic cedar).
Needless to say, when the Europeans saw the astounding forests of the new world, with trees hundreds of feet tall, they realized they had hit the jackpot. Even though this hemisphere stood in between them and their Indian spices, trees like the American Mahogany offered rot resistance and beautiful carvability like walnut, but in a jumbo sized package! The softwood family of trees that grew so straight to get to the top of the "old-growth" canopies made for some darn good ships masts! And Baldcypress! A tree that could grow in swamps for thousands of years had developed an oil to keep out all of the nasty bugs and fungus (NOT to be confused with the European "Cypress" species, sorry American Cypress producer website!
The Europeans set about recreating this continent in the image of the one they had left behind. They were fascinated by these new woods and their uses in furniture, ships and buildings. The new woods allowed for fine detail and intricate furniture design. The large trees gave huge beams able to span large distances and encouraged open spaced design.
The combination of European design and knowledge, coupled with new resources and labor allowed the "new world" to grow and develop amazingly fast. (next post: Into the Modern Era)
Colonial Wooden Cabinet at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City Carved Wooden Door in Queretaro Mexico Carvings on Wooden Door in Mexico City, Palace of Iturbide Carved Softwood Door Surround in Mexico City Carved Softwood Door (note the grain lines) Carved Mahogany Priest's Bench Mexico City Mahogany Carving in La Opera Bar Mexico City (Don't miss Pancho Villa's bullet hole) Table in Chapultepec Castle Giant Slab of Mahogany(?)
Posted by JR on 6th March, 2014 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: travel, cross cultures, history
Tags: Historic Preservation | Historic homes | historic building re-use, mexican traditional woods, history, mexico