Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mesquite Media Chest and a Happy New Year!

Wow! The end of the month and end of the year sure came quick! Where does all that time go? We had a really nice Christmas with Family and that is really what it should be all about.

Looking back on it we have had an interesting year. We have added several more talented artists into our friends and family fold, a few of which have been hard hit by the economic situation in this country. We began the year thinking the Economy had not really affected us but as we end the year we are seeing and feeling a few of the effects. Our plans are to weather the storm and stay firm in our belief that when you do what you love the money will come.  I honestly don't know what else we could or would be able to do.

Lou is finishing up the Ross Mesquite Media Chest a commissioned piece that will make it's way to a home in Dallas in the next few weeks.  It is now in the final finishing stage so I don't have any beauty shots of her yet but I will show some photos of the stages and progress. The photos are the type of photos that we share with our clients via email to update them on the progress of their piece.

The piece was designed similar to the Mesquite Night Stands from the Sanders Mesquite Bedroom Set. It is a design that is not based on the curves that are so much a part of Lou's other designs, but it does have the very sculptural live edge and a distinct Lou Quallenberg look.

Speaking of curves our nephew Matthew has found another use for some of Lou's laminated curves. He has found that they make great ramps and tracks for his Matchbox cars.

The client's requested a Signature Bow Tie even though the top did not require one.  They may even end up buying a new TV just to be sure it is visible!!

They also wanted the antler drawer pulls like the ones on the Mesquite Partners Desk.

We think they will be very happy with the final product a Mesquite Media Chest that was designed specifically for them.

Now as for New Years Resolutions I won't bore you with the usual losing weight, making better choices for food and clearing out the clutter. But we will make a resolution to try to include an instructional style video with each blog post next year. That will mean 12 clips on things like turquoise inlay, laminated curves and (well I guess) 10 other similar topics. We will do our best to make that happen. (Hey we actually kept our resolution to do a Blog post every month so it could actually happen.)

From our Home and Shop at Lou Quallenberg Studios to yours we wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!!!  Thank you for reading our blog.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Counting our Blessings and Giving Thanks

As we come off of a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday spent with family we wanted to reflect on the many things we are thankful for not only during the holidays but every day. So here we go in no particular order:

Louie our sweet rescue boy from Dogue De Bordeaux Society Rescue  . He was rescued in St. Louis and given the name Louie. (Yeah it was confusing at first but Lou is Lou and Louie is Louie.) Thanks to the Rescue group we only had to go to Oklahoma City to pick him up. That all happened 5 years ago this past October. Can't believe our boy will be six on January 1st!!! He got off to a rough start because he was so small and he had such HUGE paws to fill. Jake was our FIRST. First Dog as a couple, First French Mastiff/ Dogue De Bordeaux, First Rescue. Louie could never fill such huge paws with those tiny feet so he just made new paw prints all over our hearts.

I guess if we are talking about our fur family we can't forget our kitty babes. They are all ferals born under the porch. Lucia, Lily, Sophie and Leonardo. Leonardo lost his sister London right before the Western Design Conference this year. We managed to semi socialize them when they were little babies. They were inseparable and since she is gone he has been coming inside every night. He even sits on our laps sleeping in the evenings. You know life is good if you have a cat purring on your lap and a dog snoring on your bed.
You know life is good if you have a cat purring on your lap and a dog snoring on your bed. -CWQuallenberg2009

MeMaw and PaPaw own the home where we chose to build the shop. This arrangement gives PaPaw a chance to be a part of the design and building process as mentor and red pencil grade giver. (Teachers never die they just continue grading in the classrooms in the sky.) It also gives Lou company throughout the day. Working in the shop can be such a lonely existence. It is a good thing all the way around.

Our nephew Matthew and niece Taylor are our miniature apprentices that prefer to work on their own projects until they lose interest. Needless to say we have lots of started projects and few finished projects. But hey ya never know, one day when they grow up, they may find they love making furniture in the shop and enjoy being covered in sawdust. We can only hope.

Brother Shawn has been a great help going to shows, sanding, sanding and sanding some more. He may have inherited a bit of Papaw's packing gene.

Sister Heather has helped us whenever we ask and sometimes even when we don't. She definitely got that PaPaw packing gene. Her husband Terry is good at finding stuff and sometimes it's even stuff we can use.

Karl Rhoade's regular shop visits are a blessing bringing an artistic eye and a soulful approach to life. You can never have too much of either of those things.

Bob Pheil of Pheil Forges only two doors down offering sound advice, incredible metal work and a break from work here and there.

We want to say a big thank you to Jim Derby who has put on the Texas Furniture Makers Show for the past 10 years in Kerrville and retired this year.  We are thankful for winning the Best Texas Style Furniture Award two years in a row. Not bad for a Yankee!!

Our health has been relatively good the past year so we are definitely thankful for that. We have been down the road of health issues and it's not a journey we enjoy taking. We are still alive and kicking and all in all that's just a great thing!!

Our clients past, present and future are the biggest blessing we have as a furniture making company. We can't do this without you so we THANK YOU for your investment in Lou Quallenberg Studios.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If Art is a step from Nature toward the infinite, can furniture be art?

"Art is a step from nature toward the infinite." Kahlil Gibran

So can furniture really ever be considered art? Lou is consciously trying to bring his mesquite furniture to the level of art. Will we know if it ever reaches that level? I'm not sure, but I know that it won't keep us from trying.

We are having a difficult time finding appropriate places to show his work. True "Art" Galleries are quick to say that they do not show furniture, without even taking a look at his work. We have been in several galleries that use furniture as fixtures covering the pieces with guestbooks and nick nacks. When really one or two pieces of something sculptural would enhance both the sculpture and the furniture piece. I have to say Artisan's at Rocky Hill does a nice job of displaying our mesquite furniture pieces. Most Furniture and Retail stores are more interested in volume. Quantity over quality, the old stack 'em deep and sell 'em cheap philosophy. It is so hard to find a good fit.

So that leaves Shows as the best option to get his work out in front of the public eye. We prefer gallery setting shows with the pieces shown on pedestals, like art. We dislike outdoor shows for one main reason: THE WEATHER! The weather can ruin the finish of a piece and create all kinds of problems with wood. Warping, swelling, and sticking to name a few. This is the main reason we don't show at the Texas Mesquite Association Art Show in Fredricksburg, Texas. It is an outdoor show and it always seems to rain on that weekend. It poured this year and was cold on top of it all. We are still in the process of identifying which shows will give us exposure to the upscale clientele we serve. It is all trial and error and it helps so much when our artist friends share information about successes and failures on the show circuit. We are even working with some folks on creating an upscale show that would showcase artisans and in particular wood. We will of course be sharing that information once plans are finalized.

Don't forget The 10th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show in Kerrville runs from October 22-December 6th this year. Based on what we saw on delivery day it will be another wonderful show. We saw some really amazing pieces! This year's Seminar “The Contemporary Scene in Handmade Furniture” with author and furniture maker Jonathan Binzen is on November 7th from 2:30 - 5:30 pm with the reception and awards ceremony to follow.

Advertising and our website are also ways to gain exposure but they lack one of the most important aspects of his work, the ability to touch, feel and look under his pieces. Lou is a great photographer but these pieces all present major challenges. They curve and wave, sweep and swoop and it is almost impossible to capture that multi-dimensionality in a photo. We have even considered video and it may help capture a few curves here and there but it presents even more technical challenges. In the end it probably won't reach the results we are looking for. Don't worry, it won't stop us from trying and we will post any suitable results on our website or here so keep checking back. Advertising in the high end magazines can eat into the wallet and then some and, depending on the economy or the issue, not have a payoff. We always track where our sales come from and so far the internet has been our best resource for new clients.

So as we try to push Lou Quallenberg's work, a step from nature towards the infinite and into the realm of art, we continue to be blessed with this amazing mesquite furniture journey. We look forward to spending another year reaching towards the infinite and following our dreams.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good Luck, Great Folks & Success

The Mesquite Partners Desk made her debut in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the 17th Annual Western Design Conference where we connected with old friends and made a few more new ones. The desk named "Good Luck" as a joke from a friendly disagreement on what is possible in design and construction, leads me to question what makes an artist successful? Is it Good Luck? Is it Talent? Is it Marketing?

We were happily reunited with Tim Carney and his wife Maureen Shaughnessy from Montana. Timothy’s Fine Woodworking is one of the artist’s Lou searched out last year and really connected with. His furniture is truly beautiful, soulful and his nature so sweet and quiet. They both give back to the world their time energy and finances. They are both so soft spoken and I think it is difficult for them to push, and stand in the spotlight of the public.

Another happy reunion was with Artist Les Powers and his wife Tauni aka BBF of Natures Forms. Les’s work is a brilliant mix of wood and stone sculpture. It is an unusual and truly original look that we know one day will make him famous. He showed up with a recovering staph infection in his hand, that had prevented him from finishing his special piece for the Show. His amazing calm as a metal lighting beam fell on and crushed one of his beautiful creations was an inspiration to us all. He is shown here gluing it back together.

Jerry Van Fleet of Legendary Heirlooms was featured in the Cowboys & Indians article that we were in. We met Jerry at last years Western Design Conference and I think he and Lou had so much fun that the WDC decided they needed to put them in opposite corners this year! We met his beautiful wife Shari this year ending the standing joke that she was a figment of his imagination.
Above: Jerry Van Fleet (Legendary Heirlooms), Lou Quallenberg, John Gallis (Norseman Designs West) & Mike Roth (Bear Paw Designs)
Last year we had briefly made the acquaintance of John Gallis, Mike Roth and Scott Strikwerda all of whom were in the article with us in Cowboys & Indians Magazine. It was great and inspirational to visit with each of them again.

We caught up with Scott and Stephanie Shangraw of Shangri-La Woodworks we had met them at several of the mesquite shows in Texas. They are responsible for any moose photos that Lou took, because they gave us the heads up that moose were at their campground every morning. Scott’s chairs always blow our minds. It is funny that Scott, Tim, John and Lou all three brought desks to the show and each one was so completely different. It didn't matter though, this year the judges had a thing for chairs.

Jim Branvik and the beautiful Laurie were phone and email buddies that we helped push to get into the show (can’t really take credit cause his work truly speaks for itself.) Jim is the Original Horseshoe Engraver an idea so simple and original and carried out so artistically. The horseshoes and jewelry he makes are absolutely gorgeous they are Western Bling to the hilt. We were so happy to finally meet them live and in person. We look forward to a long and lasting friendship with these two.

Lucky Star Gallery’s Harriet and Missy Allison were familiar faces that we grew to know and love this year. Their joy and excitement are just plain contagious. We hope they will spend some of their holidays in the Hill Country. Congratulations for the Best in Show Award it was a real beauty and a lasting tribute to Sonny Tuttle.

Tom Dean of Milo Creek Carving was one “big fish” that we intended to meet but had no idea we would find a comedian, marketing genius, leader and friend all wrapped in one. How his wife Patty puts up with his antic’s we will never know. She is a real sweetheart and a Physical Therapist that worried and watched over Les’s hand. I do owe Tom a debt of gratitude for adding new voices and catch phrases to Lou and Shawn’s repertoire. Just ask him if his brother has an arc welder.....

Tim Urban and his wife Cindy were first timers that we expect you will be seeing more of. Tim’s stone cut outs and inlays into the table tops are really art pieces. The amount of time and patience it takes to do this work is incredible. We expect to see him on the scene for a long time. Watch for Tim Urban's Bird Stone Furniture.

So what is it that makes an artist successful? Is just being accepted at the Western Design Conference a nod to that success? Does it require ribbons, trophies and judges? Does it take photos and articles in Newspapers and Magazines to make an artist successful? Can we call it art even though the work is not on canvas or is rarely accepted into a Gallery to be shown? Is it luck, fate, marketing or just plain old hard work? What does it take and when is it called success?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The FULL Cowboys & Indians Magazine Interview

We are preparing to leave this Texas Heat for Jackson Hole and the Western Design Conference in the next 10 days to show Lou's mesquite furniture. We are also anxiously awaiting the publication of the next issue of Cowboys & Indians Magazine. We have been told it will have Nolan Ryan on the cover. We have also been told it will feature 10-12 Woodworkers/Furniture Makers. We were quite surprised when they called us and asked for an interview. Why us? We thought to ourselves. Lou can still barely believe it and probably won't until he actually sees it in print. We are honored and blessed to be listed alongside many of these folks that we respect, admire and are considered some of the Best in the West in a Magazine that we consider the Gold Standard in Western Design. All of the Folks at Cowboys & Indians Magazine that we spoke with are Courteous, Professional and above all KIND. We thought you might like to read the interview questions and Lou's answers in their entirety. We have no idea what info made the cut or even how visible the article will be so for those interested here is the Full Interview Q&A from Cowboys and Indians Magazine:

C&I* One of your signature design elements is the deep curves you put into your furniture. What was your inspiration for the look?
The female form first and foremost, I just love the curves of a woman. My wife considers each new piece my girlfriend of the moment and says she feels crazy for being jealous of a table. While most mesquite furniture makers look for good straight, solid pieces of wood we seek out the mesquite wood with the unusual curves and character. The tree's spirit eventually dictates how the wood will be used and its natural curves are carefully matched to create the curved base.

C&I* How long on average does it take you to do an average piece?
Some pieces go from tree to table and therefore require very extended lead time, fortunately we have patrons that are willing to wait. We even have one client that got impatient with their home builder so they built another home but waited several months for their pieces because they did not want to rush the art. Once we have the mesquite dried and ready to go and the design approved by the client, it typically takes 10-12 weeks. Of course that also really depends on how full the schedule is at the time.

C&I* What are some of your most popular pieces?
Entry tables and over sized coffee tables seem to be the most popular.
Our clients tend to build a room around their over sized coffee table pieces. If they have been involved in the tree to table process they have photos throughout the process and the table becomes a conversation piece as well. They feel especially connected to their piece because they were involved every step of the way. They are like proud parents, you just can't get that feeling with a piece of massed produced furniture you pick out of a store or catalog.

How has photography influenced your art as a furniture maker?
Both photography and furniture making are very visual arts. My background in photography helps me visualize the piece in advance. Before I start I can pretty much see what that piece will look like upon completion. I used to build elaborate sets for my commercial photography clients so that made it one step easier to transition to furniture building. I've been constructing and building all my life but now I am making the pieces that I want to make in my own design style and that is really the best form of satisfaction. Lou Quallenberg

8/29/09 WOW!! We Just saw the article and all we can say is we are so blessed, honored and blown away.
Read the article online: HERE

Thank You Cowboys & Indians and especially Rebecca Sherman.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gold Stars, Awards and Recognition

As we prepare for upcoming shows: The Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the Texas Furniture Makers Show in Kerrville, Texas we question why is it that we do them? It REALLY is NOT for the Awards or Prizes but more for a chance to push Lou's artistic vision and ability. The Gold Stars, Awards and recognition are always nice (probably necessary in Elementary School) and perhaps validate what the artist is creating but in the end that is not what Lou is working for.

He does this work in Mesquite furniture to satisfy something inside of himself and also to bring out something from the mesquite tree's spirit that is speaking to him. When we started this furniture making journey we had many head scratching, naysayers who did not quite understand what he was doing and why he invested so much time creating the curves that have become a part of his signature style. Lot's of folks just did not "get it". Lou Quallenberg's work is not traditional nor is it really contemporary. We honestly don't know what to call it. He is not repeating designs from the past or copying another style. His work truly is his own. His own Design. His own Style.

Someone recently found a piece online that was an "ill" attempt to copy his look. Lou repeated Charles Caleb Colton's words "Imitation is the sincerest of flattery." Lou also said:
"they can copy only the works I have already produced they can't copy the designs I hold in my head and have yet to produce." Lou Quallenberg
He is right but it still ruffles my feathers a bit. I guess because I feel like they are trying to take something away from him. But they can't.

Another reason we attend these shows is the opportunity to meet such amazing and talented Artists. At the Texas Furniture Makers Show we always look forward to seeing the work of Frank Strazza. (Our inside joke is that Lou has to come up with a Strazzanator) Frank's work is so amazing and he uses only hand tools!! Barry Bradley and Rex White are always coming up with something unique for the Texas Furniture Makers Show, we see them more often because we all have work at the Artisans at Rocky Hill Gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas.

The Western Design Conference is the one that really inspires because it brings together western influenced artists from Jewelry, Fashion, Metal, Wood, Leather, and Home Accents. It is a room full of 100 or so Artist's bringing their best. It is pure inspiration from the moment you walk into the gallery setting show. If you consider the amazing talent and hours of hard work that come together under one roof for those few days it will blow your mind. We always hope that while we are there in the midst of that creativity some of that talent and inspiration will somehow sneak it's way into our souls and make us better at what we do.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Creating with mesquite in the Texas HEAT

So when you are in Texas the talk eventually turns to the weather. We were blessed this year with a bit of spring, enough that I was inspired to write this poem:
The mesquite in spring
robed in a fine feathery lime green
hung lightly on ink black barky branches.
Whispers softly in the wind
the announcement that
spring may now begin.


Spring left us quickly somewhere back in May and the 90's have settled into the cracks and corners of the workshop. Also leaving us in May was an amazing yet quiet, humble soul: Sam Maloof the Father of Modern American Furniture Design and an inspiration to countless artists and craftsmen in all areas of design. While we did not really know of Mr. Maloof until we began our journey into furniture making, we quickly learned and had the rare opportunity to hear him Lecture and then Judge, Lou's work at the Western Design Conference in Cody, Wyoming 2006. We were told that Mr. Maloof was captivated by Lou's piece and that it was a close call for the award. Just knowing that he had touched and inspected Lou's work was the highest of honors. Sam Maloof will be missed but his work will live on to inspire many, many more.

The temperature in Llano now threatens to hit 100 degrees (Fahrenheit that is for all you Europeans) and we are only in June! Just can't bear to think what July and August will bring. So how does one, especially one of Yankee birth, deal with the heat from the hot Texas sun? Is it feasible to put in Air Conditioning? Should the new Shop hours be changed to 8pm-4am? If you have any suggestions please feel free to call us, email us or leave a comment below.

We do entertain plans for an air conditioning unit in the "next" shop and I know Lou is a night owl but not THAT much of one. Basically he just plays it one day at a time. While it goes against some old "biker code" he does wear shorts and he drinks lots and lots (of water that is.) Oh and threatens to move to some colder climate at least once a day, and when it is REALLY hot, on the hour. One thing for sure is the mesquite wood in the shop that is air drying is getting well dried. We know there is not one magic bullet to living and working in the Texas heat. You can bet that if we hit the lottery he will have a workshop that is completely climate controlled with a swimming pool just a diving board away. (Yes that would be a mesquite diving board! and of course we will still be making mesquite furniture, did ya really think we do this for the money?) But for now guess we will just have to sweat it out.

Added later that day:
Lou questioned the use of the word "threatens" on the part where I mentioned 100 degrees and well he was right. We have hit 100+ and seem to be doing some serious record breaking (possible 105?) in the High Temperature Category!! No relief in site. Alaska anyone?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

May I help you? TECHNOLOGY Love/Hate

May is over and I'm not really sure where the time went. Although I suspect much of it was in front of a computer screen.

Alongside Lou's "big stuff" we have had lots of smaller and unique projects in the shop. A mesquite rug rail and a mesquite guitar stand to name a few works in progress. Lou created a beautiful mesquite with turquoise inlay box for a young bride to present a pistol to her groom on their wedding day. When the order came in from our website:, Lou shook his head and said "only in Texas." She wanted the lid to be engraved so this made us do a bit of R&D on different ways to accomplish that.

We eventually settled on laser engraving. It was a bit nerve wracking because it's a one shot deal, if it messed up then the lid would be ruined and Lou would have to start over. We had it done in Horseshoe Bay by Created For You and it turned out really nice. It is so amazing how far technology has come.

It's also SCARY how dependent we are on it. We came back from the Lake after a nice long, relaxing, Memorial Day weekend and had no internet service. Talk about a nightmare!! We spent hours upon hours on the phone with Verizon, then waited a day or so to receive a new modem which did not fix the problem!! We are both technically challenged. We have a "brand new" 3-4 year old DVD player, received as a gift, still in the box because neither one of us wants to attempt the hook up because failure would mean the old one might not work after attempting to hook up the new one. It's the old: if it's not broke don't fix it attitude.

We finally got the new modem working with the PC laptop but the Mac, our main computer was still rebelling. The ethernet was not working and it was not the modem or the cable. It began to look like we were going to have to take it to the big city and get it checked out when a friend mentioned that they went wireless and did not need the ethernet. Lou picked up a wireless Router from Radio Shack (yes we actually have one in Llano!!) I started the install process and got an error. After that I just walked away for a few hours. We had wasted hours and hours on the phone with condescending, computer geeks that reside in other countries and can only help you if they follow the computer screen prompts in front of them. Now we had invested the better part of a hundred dollar bill on a useless wireless router?!!

My FINAL attempt at wireless hook up began with another very unhelpful male, techie that I eventually hung up on and ended with a very helpful female, techie that I would have hugged and kissed if she had been in the room!! Wireless is AMAZING!! And I can't believe there is not an extra monthly charge?! I finally got the network set up on my own but I needed the helpful, female, techie to help make the network safe and secure. When she told me I could even hook up the printers I nearly cried!! Of course I won't be attempting that today, although I just might get that old/new DVD player out of the box.

This technology stuff makes everything so much easier. So now that this blog post is finally written I need to go update facebook, twitter, the website oh yeah and check ALL of our email accounts......

BTW Best Wishes Lindsay!!! We hope he liked the Box.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bluebonnets, Birthdays, Balance, a Bench & Bugs

That sure is a mouthful of B's.....
The month of April is always a favorite for this double aries household. YES!! that's right two rams in the house and usually butting heads until someone gives up and decides to be the lamb. The first two weeks are birthday weeks for us and it's also that time of year when, thanks to Lady Bird Johnson, the blue begins to fringe the sides of the highways all across this great state. While this year was not expected to show as well as years past because of a lack of rain, and both early and late roadside mowing to prevent fires, it has been pleasant surprise. Some years we observe seas of blue that actually seem like lakes or ponds floating in green pastures. The blue is just the beginning of the spectacular Texas wildflower show that continues on through the summer in layers of gold and a multitude of rainbow colors. We are so blessed to live in the Texas Hill Country in Llano, Texas.

As Lou and I get older it seems our birthdays are times spent in reflection and a point in time, at which a measure can be taken. Did we reach the goals we had hoped to reach? As the time slips by we question, "Are we doing what we were meant to do?" Lou's work in Mesquite is tangible and he will leave behind a legacy of physical objects. I think that is a part of the satisfaction he finds creating this mesquite furniture. When he was building choppers with his friends in the 70's he was doing the same sort of thing - bringing something beautiful, physically into the world. Photography is not the same as producing something that can be touched, tasted, smelled or held. Photography is more about capturing time, on film in the early days and now digitally. While he still enjoys photography his heart and soul go into his mesquite pieces. He has said many times that he will not have enough time to create all the pieces he has in his head. A look into the pages of his sketch books will prove that.

So how do you find balance when you know you will not have time to get it all done before you call it quits on this earth? That my friends is the question we are currently trying to solve and may not ever really find an answer. Lou and I try to live in the moment but often find ourselves looking back at the past or forward to the future. Lou enjoys taking the break, once he finally breaks free, but it is the making a break that is so hard for him. Maybe it is because he is already living in the moment while he works on his pieces. It usually takes an ultimatum or angry outburst from me, to make him take a break and I really do hate to be that person. I often find myself jealous of a piece of mesquite furniture and have to laugh. They are his girlfriends, his babies, his creations and sometimes he has a hard time sending them to their new homes.

April brought the end to a commissioned bench project bound for Jackson Hole Wyoming allowing us to renew a relationship with Fredericksburg Shipping. If you live in the Texas Hill Country and are ever in need of top notch packing and shipping check them out. Thad and his staff are friendly, efficient and thorough. They ship everything from antiques and art to zebra taxidermy mounts and everything in between. He has also dealt with several of the large galleries in Jackson Hole. Speaking of Jackson Hole we are planning to head out to the Western Design Conference again this year. Just not totally sure of what Lou will be creating to show. Guess I need to get that whip out and crack it.

My final B is a reminder that mesquite wood is home and harbor to a few different wood boring bugs. We keep hearing horror stories of people that have brought home mesquite products and discovered bits of sawdust on and around the pieces and so they douse it in insecticide often ruining the look of the frame, furniture or sculpture. Not a good solution if it is a cooking utensil or cutting board. We have even heard of a couple in Austin that had to fumigate the whole house because the new mesquite flooring they had installed had bugs. What a nightmare! So what should you do? Does this mean you should avoid mesquite wood products? Not at all.

First know who it is that you are buying from. There are many reputable folks that use mesquite. Check to see if they are members of the Texas Mesquite Association. This is a great group of artists and craftsmen that share info, ideas and the love for mesquite. Their spring show the Spring Texas Mesquite Art Festival was held April 17-19th in San Angelo, Texas. If you missed it you can catch the Fall Texas Mesquite Art Festival in Fredericksburg, Texas October 9-11th.

Second know that some of these bugs (powder post beetles) prefer the yellow sapwood layer of the wood. Be sure that your piece contains very little or preferably none of the yellow wood. We know of a woodworker that won't allow any of the yellow wood to come onto his property let alone his workshop. While we are not that extreme we are very careful and take serious precautions when drying and choosing wood for a particular piece.

Nobody likes to deal with bugs but if you should find that your new mesquite object has an insect that is making holes and sawdust you have a few options to treat it. Environmentally safe options include drastically lowering the humidity on the piece, and if small enough microwaving, heating to 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven or freezing for several hours. You can also try injecting alcohol into the holes to see if that works, before breaking out the chemicals and insecticide. We really hope you won't ever need to use this information but if you do need it we hope it is helpful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Marching along to the beat of Mesquite

Well March has just marched right along and has been a month full of progress. The Mesquite Bedroom Furniture finally finished up and delivered safe and sound to it's new home. Where we hope it will provide it's owners many years (possibly generations) of sweet dreams and restful sleep.

Lou's unique designs sometimes require creative solutions. The typical brass bed bolt covers really were not an option for the mesquite bed. The idea of metal Texas stars was discussed but really did not fit the design style. So mesquite and purple heart buttons were finally designed and created with earth magnets (the REALLY strong ones) embedded in the back. The difficult choice of mesquite or purpleheart was left up to the client by providing 8 of each kind. He liked the purpleheart that matched the other smaller accents on the pieces and she preferred the mesquite for its subtle look. We are still not real sure who won that one.

This month Llano, Texas finally got it's first Chinese Food Restaurant. Whoa!!! Talk about progress!!! It has been the hot spot in town for the past few weeks and by the look and taste of things should be a success. Chinese food in Llano who would have dared to dream it?!

MeMaw now has her new nose and once the swelling goes down should be even better than ever. Just a friendly reminder: have a dermatologist give you the once over regularly. Ya just never know what might be lurking there right in front of your face.

Lou is now on Facebook. That is REAL progress since he can barely send email. We hope the account will help out in the networking department. Maybe we will actually stumble across our six degrees to Kevin Bacon cause I really think he would appreciate Lou's mesquite furniture designs.

On the homefront (or make that shopfront.) We finally made friends with the longhorns in the back field behind the shop. They are super friendly. We will have to watch to be sure they don't tear down the fence for some attention. They usually come out about 6:00ish that's pm if ya wanna stop by the shop for a visit. Lou has also made friends with the goats next door but they are early am visitors if you want to catch them. We named their leader Billy and he is a bossy one. Bring carrots or apples either way and make sure you schedule plenty of time to visit if PaPaw/Steve is in the shop he'll teach your ears off!!

As Lou learns the in's and out's of working with mesquite we notice that it's craggly character provides unique challenges along with smooth and subtle surprises and we just follow, marching along to the crazy beat of mesquite.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friends, Family and the Economy "we shall see"

February has come and is quickly going, going gone. Where does all the time slip off to?

This month has been a month focused on finishing up a commissioned project (Mesquite Bedroom Set) and preparing the mesquite wood for another. We are also so pleased to announce our new partnership with Patina in Marble Falls. The Gallery setting that the Stange's provide is artfully arranged with the collections both stylish and upscale. We are very proud to have them represent us in the Highland Lakes Area. We are still represented in Fredericksburg by Artisans at Rocky Hill which in case you did not know has relocated to West Main into a larger space. As always Anne Bradley keeps the space beautiful and ever changing.

A word about the economy? We hear every night on the news the dreadful, dreary outlook on the US economy. We feel so blessed that we continue to have work coming in, a roof over our heads and food on the table. Lou was in the building stages of a new business during the last recession and grew a strong and successful commercial photography business as others were faced with closing their doors. One of his theories is that in these tough times the cream rises to the top. We hope that his talent will once again be a part of that cream. He will continue to produce his designs in mesquite for as long as he can physically work the wood. The key to success is to have a passion and Lou has the passion to learn and use this interesting media known as mesquite. Each new piece he produces becomes a favorite and at times it is difficult to send them on to their new homes. Keep updated on the works of Lou Quallenberg at our website

The F in February can stand for Friends & Family as we deal with a few peaks and valleys in the lives of our friends and family. Kind of like the weather this month 80 degrees one day then 40 degrees the next. We watched Joy Quallenberg on television at the Westminster Dog Show as our dear dog friend Goldie passed on. Our concerns for Me Maw as she goes through facial reconstruction were tempered with childhood memories as Matthew pulled his first tooth. We watched as Sharon's job loss was turned into an opportunity to advance. It reminds us of the Chinese Story of the boy who got a horse and the villagers all said "That's Good" and the wise man said "we shall see" then he fell off the horse and broke his arm and the villagers all said "That's Bad" and again the wise man said "we shall see" and then the war came and he was left behind because of his broken arm......

Friday, January 30, 2009

Green Mesquite Furniture and Intentions

Well it is the end of the month and the intention to regularly blog seems to have been just that, an intention. We are busy trying to finish up a commissioned Bedroom Suite and the weather just won't cooperate. The cold and wet are really not conducive to a good environment for finishing our mesquite furniture.

With the New Year comes a renewed interest in doing our part for the environment. We are working at building our furniture as green and sustainable as possible. We try to use products that are safer for the environment, eco-friendly and therefore safer for us as we are using it. Tests are in progress and as we master the new products we will report back with our recommendations. By using mesquite that is already being removed from ranches, we are turning something that would be burned up in a brush pile, someone's fireplace or Bar-B-Q pit into a long lasting treasure. Since we prefer the curvy trunks we are not competing with the flooring industry for the super straight trees and producing huge amounts of waste because it is not perfect or flawless. We expect this mesquite furniture to be around long after we have left this great earth and we hope to leave the earth in better condition than we found it.