Thursday, June 30, 2011

Making an Entrance: Mesquite Entry Table

Live Edge Mesquite Entry Table with Turquoise Inlay by Lou Quallenberg more at:

After looking into our delivery options: Fredericksburg Shipping and Custom Delivery Service (both companies are really great at what they do!) we delivered this latest piece to Houston ourselves. Lou did not want to take the time off to run to Houston but he likes seeing where his babies will reside and getting a little taste of city life.  I'm up for travel anytime I can get him out of the shop!  

Slab for Mesquite Table Top
Slab Top on old style legs
This commissioned mesquite entry table was ordered as an anniversary gift for the clients. I think she mentioned that it was this table or a trip to Hawaii.  WOW! Now that is a compliment. They contacted us while they were visiting Fredericksburg.  They had seen Lou's work on the internet and wanted to see it in person and meet him.  We were low on mesquite inventory at the time so I did not think he would have much to show them but I told them to come on to Llano and we could show them some of his work, the shop and get an idea of what they were looking for.  I did not know that Lou had squirreled away a special slab of mesquite for an entry table.  He does this sometimes with special pieces and then he has to make sure the client is worthy of the slab or slabs in the case of the Dancing Trees.  These two clients  were VERY special and he showed them the mesquite slab right away.  It fit their length and width requirements and practically sold itself.  We even had several new clients that wanted to buy the slab away from them once Lou had started the table.

They left the shop that day knowing they would have a sculpted, live edge, mesquite, entry table made by Lou Quallenberg for their anniversary. They also knew that due to the schedule it would not be finished until several months after their anniversary - but that it would probably be worth waiting for.

Sketch of Mesquite Entry Table

The sketch was emailed later that week and Lou began working it into the already full schedule.  He was excited to get it started because he wanted to use the new more curved leg design. The clients had agreed to use the new design for the legs.

New Leg Design Pattern
New Leg taped out & ready to cut
New Leg Design Pattern

Lou made a pattern of the new leg to be sure he liked the curve and shape of the new design. Then he taped it out and then cut the legs from sturdy chunks.  I always think he is crazy when he goes changing up the design style but he seems to know what he is doing because it never fails, I always prefer the new style of whatever he does.

Slab Mesquite Table Top and Base Curves
New Legs put together
New Legs and Front Curve
Next its all pieces and parts kind of like a large 3D puzzle. It is always exciting to see it go together for the first time and to finally stand on its own four legs!  The laminated compound curved stretchers are usually the last part to be made. Each one is carefully created custom to the curve of the slab top.  While this curve is a distinctive design element in his work it does actually serve a purpose.  Lou's work is stable it does not wobble.  This curve and the base curves provide an added measure of strength to the tables.  The l/8th inch laminated pieces of mesquite once glued up are actually stronger than a piece of  uncut mesquite of the same size. 

Ready for some turquoise
It stands on its own

Matching curves in need of final stretcher

Adding the turquoise is the final step before the labor intensive two week hand rubbed oil finish.  The turquoise inlay process is not a rushed step. Careful thought is put into adding just the right touch of turquoise.  Each tiny piece of gem quality turquoise is added to the epoxied crack by hand with a pair of tweezers.  Lou looks at the placement as an art form in itself and you can see the difference in his work compared to others.
Mesquite with Turquoise inlay
Turquoise Inlay

We have seen some craftsmen use cheap turquoise powder or even colored aquarium rocks as a filling for the cracks.  Lou Quallenberg takes pride in his work and he treats each piece as a work of art. We abide by the saying: 
"There are no short cuts to anyplace worth going."
Lou Quallenberg and Lou Quallenberg Studios stands for quality and we will not rush a project or compromise on quality. While our materials may cost more and the work may take longer, in the end it is worth it. We hope that the value is evident but there are some folks that just don't "get it." He has a few wood working friends that don't understand why he tortures himself with the compound curves, laminated curves and the extreme sanding and finishing.  They don't understand that he is pouring his heart and soul into the piece and that when he is finished a part of him will be fused forever with the piece in a concept the Japanese call "takumi" (also meaning artisan or hand made.)  These same folks also don't understand why he bothers to finish off the bottom of the piece as completely as the top and they REALLY don't understand how he can charge what he charges for a piece. Again they just don't "get it", but we do and we know our clients and future clients do as well.....

Lou Quallenberg's Live Edge Mesquite Entry Table with Turquoise Inlay
What an ENTRANCE! Mesquite Entry Table with Turquoise Inlay ready for Delivery.

Lou Quallenberg's Finished Mesquite Entry Table with Turquoise Inlay