Crafting a passion: Artists and craftsmen find inspiration to create
Phillip Makselan , PensacolaHG.com
5:08 p.m. CDT July 7, 2014
Artistic talent comes in all forms, whether you're crafting a splendid painting, molding clay, shaping wood, etc. — or simply have the vision for a project and the passion to create.
The Pensacola area is lucky to have many talented artists in the wood working genre who turn their craft into monetary success by not only creating works of art, but pieces with practical applications.
IN THE BEGINNING
Some people grow into appreciation and love of a craft due to a spark of interest or even out of necessity brought on by various situations.
Shawna Newman, owner of Punky Junk, fell into her craft by accident.
"My husband, Brody Newman, owns a local renewable energy company, ENTEC Sustainable, and we receive pallets of solar panels on a regular basis. They tend to pile up pretty quickly and become an eyesore," Newman says.
And so it began.
"It started with the need for an outdoor table that could withstand the weather and our rambunctious puppy. After hours of staring at the ugly pallets, I thought, 'Why not? So what if I mess up, it's just a pallet," Newman says.
After borrowing her husband's Sawzall and breaking the wood down into manageable pieces, art and furniture began to take shape.
"My husband and I make a great team. I usually start with the basic vision, and he adds the artistic touches that make it unique. I still make him a little nervous using the hand saw and wearing a dress," she says.
For Joe Sinkovich, owner of The Armored Frog, it wasn't a love of carpentry or woodworking that spurred his interest creating furniture, but a love of history and genuine appreciation for fine craftsmanship.
"I am a history buff and appreciate pretty much anything that is well designed and constructed. In today's fast-paced environment, there are fewer and fewer items that are constructed with longevity and design that will last the test of time," Sinkovich says.
While rehabbing his 1918 home, he noticed the original heart pine was still beautiful and strong, while he was having to replace work added in the 1970s and 1980s. He then went on to hire an father/son preservation specialist team to work on the home and become the first employees of The Armored Frog.
Joe Sinkovich and Tip McAlpin of The Armored Frog with a soon to be 10 foot custom bunk bed. (Photo: Phillip Makselan/H&G/pnj.com)
Additionally, Tip McAlpin, owner of McAlpin Interiors, who has been a designer for 36 years, joined the team.
For Jennifer Dermody, owner of Beach House, it was a love of antiques that fueled her passion.
She grew up in a home of antique furniture, some of which she has in her current home, albeit in different colors and functions after years of life.
"They are still as useful and beautiful as the day they were built in the 1800s," Dermody says.
It was with this cemented belief that a year ago, she began her quest "to show people who might not understand or appreciate reclaimed antique furniture that it can be beautiful and functional in today's modern homes," says Dermody, who has directed the store toward a coastal color palette with thoughts of the sea and sand as her inspiration.
With some people, inspiration starts in childhood.
"I have always enjoyed building things,'' says Dennis Adrian, owner of Candle Cabinets. "As a young child, I would build tree houses from wood scraps and scooters from broken, discarded, baby carriages, things like that. When I was in college, I would build furniture in a rented garage as a way of relaxing. After finishing college, I began building houses in Durham, N.C., and eventually started focusing on cabinets and woodwork. I started my first cabinet shop in Durham and hired the best cabinetmakers I could find to learn from."
PIECES WITH HEART
Whether you're crafting furniture for sale, personal enjoyment or as gifts for friends and family, the key point is to do so with precision and attention to detail, working to create the best piece you can that will stand the test of time and be adaptable to its environment.
"I have always had a love of old woods, whether it be walnut, mahogany, or pine. I think that time gives a wonderful patina that only time can truly create," McAlpin says.
Sinkovich agrees that antique wood is truly spectacular.
"I'm spoiled. I have had the opportunity to save thousands of feet of antique timbers, to actually see many of the old buildings and homes as the wood is pulled piece by piece,'' Sinkovich says. "Our desire to provide a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture, hand-crafted, hand-finished and constructed with antique timbers is what has progressed us (The Armored Frog) to where we are today. The process to perfection is a never ending journey."
With pallets, Newman sees each piece as unique, and while they can be cheaply acquired, the end result can yield remarkably resilient pieces.
"I don't really have a favorite. They all have their own uniqueness. I love the smell of the wood being cut by the table saw and being covered in saw dust. It's similar to the sand and salt air on your skin, except you have something to be proud of in the end. It can be as rustic or chic. The limit is my own imagination," she says.
Dennis Adrian, at work in his shop. (Photo: Phillip Makselan/H&G/pnj.com)
At Candle Cabinets, Dennis says, "I mostly enjoy the creative process, using my imagination to make something that someone else would find attractive and useful. The best thing that I can hear from someone after seeing their cabinets or furniture for the first time is 'That is even better than what I had hoped for."
Refinishing pieces offers a satisfaction all its own from new creations, bringing back brilliance and helping another generation enjoy a nearly forgotten work of art.
"There is no better feeling than walking through an antique store, or pulling up to an estate sale, and spotting a quality antique that seems to be so past its prime that it's practically being given away,'' Dermody says.
"There is nothing like a nice piece of primitive pine, whether it's an entire piece of furniture in old paint with dovetailed joints and square nails, or a single pine board from an old barn. When you refinish an old pine board, the wood just pops, it gives it a new life," she says.
Whether you're working on a creation in your tool shed, interacting with a designer to build your dream or searching stores to choose the right, it's important to keep quality first and foremost on your list because without it, you'll be on the road of choice again sooner than you think.