Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End Is The Beginning

Is it the end of the old year or the beginning of a new one that we celebrate? I really think it is a little of both as we look back at what we have survived and accomplished (or not as the case may be) and then prepare for all of the incredible possibilities a new year brings......

Is it the end of the old year or the beginning of a new one that we celebrate?

British Airways Face to Face Award
A quick look back on 2011 reminds me that at this time last year I was busy planning my trip to New York, London and Egypt. All thanks to the British Airways Face of Opportunity Award.  The New York leg was detoured because of the crazy weather and Egypt obviously did not happen due to the turmoil in the country but it was replaced by sunny and beautiful Barcelona and for that I am thankful.  Barcelona was never really on my top 10 list but now I can't wait to take Lou there, if I can ever get him dusted off and out of the shop.  I guess it is hard to take a vacation when you do what you love and feel like you don't have enough time to accomplish what you want to with it in this lifetime!

Mesquite Entry Table 2011 by Lou Quallenberg
Lou worked away this year through the extreme cold and then the exhausting heat and drought. Projects included a Mesquite Dining Table, a Mesquite Entry Table, and then eight beautiful Benches / Pews for the Chapel.  We were blessed this year with plenty of work, new clients and even more to come in the New Year as the work schedule fills and the waiting list grows ever longer.  

Is it the end of the old year
or the beginning of a new one
that we celebrate?

While one door closed, Riverbend Fine Art in Marble Falls came to an end, a few opened as we found representation in Fredericksburg with Galeria 19Marta Stafford Fine Art will open her doors in Marble Falls and while she has no room to place our pieces we wish her huge success and value her advice and opinion on all things art.  Thanks goes to both Galleries for selling pieces, old and new, of Lou's work this past year.  Thank you also to Ann Bradley at Artisans at Rocky Hill for referring a client our way. We do miss the regular visits with the owners, Art and Artisans from that Gallery but as we know things change and change has been good to us this year.
Crated and ready to head across the pond.

We sent two pieces to the United Kingdom last year and are  being patient as the seeds planted there begin to take root and will hopefully bear fruit.  We thank Joe Prest and Amie Prest of The Mesquite Company as they do the hard work of introducing the UK and Europe to the beauty and character of all things Mesquite and especially Lou Quallenberg's Mesquite Furniture.

@LAST Llano ART Studio Tour 2011 MAP
This year we contributed to the Llano Art scene by helping start up @LAST: Llano's Art Studio Tour  the LAST Saturday in March. It was such a great success that we will be holding @LAST Annually! We joined the Llano Fine Art Guild and expanded the Llano Trail of the Deer Art Project with another deer our own Buck-B-Q!  While he is not an actual working Barbecue pit, he does sport his own food, flames , thermostat and BBQ tools.  He also has the ability to spurt smoke out his nose.  Our homage to Llano's famous Bar-B-Q and it's reputation as Deer Capital of Texas.      
Buck-B-Q our 2011 contribution to  Llano's Trail of the Deer

We continue to deal with the issues associated with aging parents and while difficult at times we would not trade it for anything.  This year's knee replacement for Me Maw brought us back together with some of the same nursing and care staff at St. Davids Hospital that we got to know with last years broken ankle surgery.  It made me wonder about paths and journeys crisscrossing and entwining and really opened my eyes to teachers and lessons.  

Thank you for reading this blog because I know that if you are actually reading this blog you are one of our supporters, clients, friends or family and we are so thankful to have you in our lives.  So it looks like we will continue on for another new year discovering the many mysteries that mesquite furniture making in the Texas Hill Country holds in store for us.......

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists STEAL"

"Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal" The quote is often credited to Pablo Picasso but it has been said by many writers, songwriters, poets, visual artists and the like and nobody is really sure who actually said it first.  One reason we like to attend Shows (Furniture and Art/Design) is the connection and energy that is created with the other artists.  The sharing, borrowing and stealing are given free range as the ideas and creativity flow freely in these gatherings of amazing talent under one roof.  What is taken away from these events is inspiration and  like the quote above one never really knows if it is borrowed or stolen. It just is.

We are pleased to announce that Lou Quallenberg is now being represented in the Texas Hill Country in Fredericksburg, Texas by: 
222 W Main St 
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-3710
(830) 990-1403

Galeria 19 is owned by Mary Frances Camp and run with the help of the very knowledgeable Jesse Hansell.  We loved the bright, colorful artist's work represented  there and the welcoming feel of this great gallery space. I'm sure we have already begun to borrow and steal inspiration from this incredible resource of international artists. I am in love with Juan Ezcurdia's longhorns  (or bulls) and the amazing sculptures by Syd Ginsberg.  Be sure to stop by, say hi and see the work if you are in the area. (See video below)

We recently attended the 12th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show Award Ceremony and Reception this year without the usual nervous feeling of how the latest piece will be received. Since Lou's schedule has been so full and the most recent deadline had arrived so close to the delivery date of the Texas Furniture Makers Show, Lou did not have time to create a "showpiece" this year.  We decided to go ahead and enter a piece in the show that had been created by Lou in 2006.  It was a small,  simple, s-curve coffee table with turquoise and gold inlay. A clean, classic representation of Lou's work. We entered to support the show and hey maybe sell the piece.  So needless to say we both had to do a double take when they called "Lou Quallenberg" as the recipient of the "Furniture Committee" Award. 

Jeremy Grubb & his Aruh Bench
Congratulations go to Rex White for winning the "Best Texas Style" Furniture Award at the Texas Furniture Makers Show. Lou  has won the "Best Texas Style" Furniture Award for the past three years in a row so now the pressure is off. Thank you and way to go Rex!! You can see Rex White's work at RS Hanna Gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas(also seen in the video above.)

Lou often feels like a newcomer at these shows probably because he came late to the furniture making scene with his mesquite furniture.  He usually feels a connection with the younger crowd at this show and we (as always) try to help promote ANYONE we find with talent.

Jeremy Grubb is one such talent that we have identified and connected with for several years now.  He greets Lou each year like Lou is a rock star - always excited to see what Lou has pulled out of his hat each year.  (Sure hope he wasn't too disappointed with this years entry from 2006.) We have been taken by his artistic talent and over the top style and attitude. Because of that connection and inspiration we created this list of up and coming talent in the Texas Furniture Design/Maker Scene found at the Texas Furniture Makers Show this year.

Our "Ones to Watch" List 
(from the 12th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show)

Chris Kemler's Jatoba Hall Chair

 Best Contemporary Style 
Chris Kemler
  Jatoba Hall Chair
Chris Kemler working on his 2010 entry
Chris Kemler on facebook

Jeremy Grubb
 Side Table(not pictured)
Judges’ Special Award
(donated by Alamo Hardwoods, Inc.)
Jeremy Grubb's Aruh Bench For Sale at Texas Furniture Makers Show
Houston, Texas

James Breaux
 Carlo Chair 
Judges’ Special Award 

Honorable Mention: James Breaux - Suspension Table

Brandon Berdoll with Large Slab
Brandon Berdoll
Mesquite Dining Table
Brandon's table did not win an award but it DID sell and that is as important as awards!!
Berdoll Sawmill & Furniture Co.
Cedar Creek, Texas


We can't wrap this blog post about the Texas Furniture Makers Show without mentioning Gerry Morrell who we enjoy connecting with every year. Gerry's Mesquite rocker was a really nice piece and we were honored that he was trying to create a piece that would take the "Best Texas Style" category off Lou's table - so to speak. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Delivery Day! Pew I mean Phew!

Well we delivered the mesquite benches/pews to the chapel in time for the upcoming wedding.  So now the "Dancing Trees" have an audience of eight that they can captivate all day long, as the light dances through the holes, ridges and ripples both natural and sculpted on the live edge mesquite slabs. Lou took the opportunity to give the "Dancing Trees" a good waxing and rub out - I think he just likes an excuse to spend time touching them.  

Wax on! Wax off! Dancing Trees by Lou Quallenberg
Thanks too the poor google map directions and a lack of communication, some on my part, but most on the lack of cell service in the area, our friends Laurie and Jim Branvik who live in Bandera and offered to lend a helping hand unloading and setting up the benches/pews, arrived as we finished assembling them in the Chapel.  They had not seen the "Dancing Trees" in their finished form so it was an opportunity to show them and reconnect, although very briefly. Jim is the Original Horseshoe Engraver and one of our favorite artist's to hang out with - of course we prefer it when Blondie is with him! 

The Chapel Benches/ Pews or shall we say seating?

Speaking of Jims' my cousin Jim gave us this little gem of a joke that I can't resist sharing:
Q: What happens if you fart in Church?
A: You have to sit in your own Pew!  (Wish they were all as beautiful as Lou's!)

The next part of the Chapel commission on the schedule is the Podium / Lectern. This will be another amazing sculpted beauty.  The mesquite slab is big and bulky and I often catch myself thinking of it as "Big Momma."  I can't wait to see what Lou Quallenberg does with this piece of mesquite. Check out the video of him having Shawn cut and shape it with the chainsaw: will be showing an older piece (s-curve mesquite coffee table), that does not really reflect his current work style, at the Texas Furniture Makers Show since the crazy busy schedule this year prevented Lou from creating a new outstanding potential award winning show piece - maybe next year!? He will have a few mirrors and framed photography hanging in the Derby Gallery. Who knows ? maybe the s-curve will find a new home while on display.

Marta's New Logo

As for new homes we are sad to say that Riverbend Fine Art our Gallery in Marble Falls is closing in November. We really did enjoy the gallery space, art and artists, and of course the amazing Marta Stafford.  But as one door closes another opens and in January 2012 Marta Stafford Fine Art will open it's doors and we cannot wait to see what she does in this great new venue. We hope to have her continued representation in the Highland Lakes Area and wish her much success!

Much of my November will be spent along side MeMaw (my mother) as she undergoes knee replacement surgery on the leg that she broke in 1967when she fell out of a deer blind! They will be removing the old hardware and replacing it with a new knee and more modern techniques.  Please keep her in your prayers.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Turning the page on September

We uploaded the catalog of mesquite furniture pieces into this great new viewer that works like a virtual magazine. The pages turn on their own or flip like a real magazine. It even works on smart phones although it is very small and hard to read. Please check it out and share it with anyone you think that might be interested.  I am so amazed at how fast technology is moving and the immense effort it takes to keep up with it all.

Amish Country Quilts - all the designs that have made Lancaster America's quilt capitol!
An Amish Quilt
When we lived in New Jersey we usually took a trip in the fall to the Amish country in Pennsylvania.  It is times like these that I wonder if they might have it right by banning technology from their lives.  Lou is working with his hands and reaps the rewards of  seeing a piece go from raw wood to sculpted beauty.  I on the other hand try to crack the ever changing code of social media.  From Facebook to Twitter, Google Analytics, Bing and beyond. I feel like I'm on a merry go round that is moving way to fast and I can't get off. Ahhh to be Amish and under a nice handmade quilt in a feather bed by sunset.  Okay I know that is romanticising it a bit but Ohhhh how I dream of THAT bed and quilt.....

My health always an issue I had more than normal health scare when an asthma attack surprised me this month. I am better now but it took me down and out for a few weeks.   It  all started with the smoke from the fires here in Central Texas. One of our artist friends Susie Fowler the Shade Tree Potter lost her home but incredibly her studio was saved. See video, photos and  article here.  Please donate and help out if you can. The Bastrop fires seem to be getting all of the attention and resources while our neighbors in Spicewood who also suffered losing their homes and businesses are offered limited relief. The Pedernales/Spicewood Fire burned 6,500 acres and damaged nearly 70 homes.

Susie Fowler Shade Tree Potter in her Home/ Gallery this vase is up for Auction
This piece, Pedernales Cliff Tower, is featured in the Texas Country Reporter episode about Susie Fowler The Shade Tree PotterWatch it HERE. All the flora and fauna collected for impressions in this piece were gathered on her land and down the bluff to the river bed.  The minimum bid will be $400,  starting the bidding with the existing bid for the previous piece.
The piece is currently on view at Authenticity Gallery in the Bee Cave Galleria mall. Please drop in and make a bid on the silent auction form.  The final auction award will be made during the Live Auction at the benefit at the fire station.
ALL of the donated funds go directly to the Pedernales Fire Dept. Auxilary
The Pedernales Fire Department Auxillary Fundraiser is this 
Saturday, OCTOBER 1 from 7 - 11 PM.

We were picking up Lou's God son, Travis from New Jersey, from the airport that evening and all roads (highways) home were blocked by fire. We were on 71 at the Pedernales River (well what was the river) when the Spicewood fire crossed the highway. Dripping Springs was being evacuated as we considered trying Hamilton Pool Road because 620 had already been closed due to the Steiner Ranch Fire.  This meant going all the way back into Austin and taking 183 to 29 but then we heard on the radio that 29 at  Leander and Liberty Hill also had a fire closing the highway.  We went ahead and decided to try getting through Liberty Hill before giving up and spending the night in Austin.  As we arrived they were re-opening the highway, so while we ended up taking the long, long, long way home. we did make it home that night. A bit late but safe and sound and for that we are so very thankful.

Travis sanding sanding sanding
Barney with a bench mock up during the design process
Travis was a huge help in the shop learning some woodworking skills and Lou Quallenberg's meticulous methods. His strength, youth and help was important because we are nearing the deadline for the Dancing Trees chapel, benches.  This time crunch and deadline mean we still do not have a showpiece for the Texas Furniture Makers Show and if we make it to the Texas Mesquite Association Show in Fredericksburg it will probably just be me  by myself getting in some Christmas shopping.  I know several artist friends that will be very disappointed  not getting to see Lou Quallenberg at least for a quick visit and laugh.

 Lou applying the finish entering the home stretch - only 7 more.
Mesquite seat gets coat #3 (see the number to the left?)
I will be happy to have him back in my life once the deadline is met, but I know that at some point in the near future another deadline real or imagined will arise and keep him in the shop non stop again.

It is so good to know he really enjoys the work he is doing.  I only wish we could put the home, shop, and studio all together in one location so that I could at least peek in on him while he is whistling and working away with his latest mesquite beauty. 

After watching Texas burn and 90+ days over 100 degrees suffering through the worse drought in many years and possibly ever recorded in Texas, it finally RAINED at our house.  We have been trying to save our trees and while this is a Band-aid it brought some relief. More importantly it brought hope.  We are happy to turn the page on September and look forward to cooler fall weather.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The 100 Club and Making Mesquite Furniture

New Ad Style. What do you think?
I always thought joining the 100 Club of anything was an honor or privilege. I'm still trying to see the honor, the privilege or anything positive about living through 75+ days of temperatures OVER 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I mean REALLY this is ridiculous!  Lou Quallenberg continues to make mesquite furniture through this scorching heat, in a shop without an airconditioner, day after day.  It is unrelenting with no relief in sight and a large project deadline creeping ever steadily closer and closer.

75+ days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and no relief in sight!!
We won't go through another Texas summer without a swimming pool.  I'll even pay to have water shipped in to fill it if I have to.  We are currently bailing our bathwater to save a few of our trees. It is amazing how much water runs down the drain wasted so don't let me get started about flushing toilets....

This may end up being the first year that we do not have a mesquite furniture piece entered in the Texas Furniture Makers Show since we started showing there in 2005.  Lou won Best Art Furniture in 2005 and Best Texas Style Furniture for the past three years consecutively 2008,2009,& 2010. We are busy and that is a very good thing. We feel blessed. Besides it is just too hot to do ANYTHING. So the show pieces get put on the way back burner while the commissioned pieces get built and delivered at the slow moving, sweaty,  hot and tired pace.  

We will certainly attend the 12th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show and are making plans to catch Thea Marx's seminar "How to Market Your Work without a Big Budget" & "Western Design: The Old, the New and Why It's Western."   We really like Thea Marx and ALL that she has done to promote Contemporary Western Design.  She is the reason we entered the British Airways Face of Opportunity Contest and while we did not get much of a chance to visit in London at the Face to Face Conference it was great knowing she was there working her western style magic on the United Kingdom, at Harrods and I know she charmed them in Paris as well.

Lou Quallenberg Clamping the Mesquite Bench Back Rest
I thought I would share a few photos of the current mesquite furniture project taking up most of the space in the shop these days.  Lou is working on the mesquite benches for the private chapel in Bandera.  They will sit curved, facing the alter and the Dancing Trees.

Solid Mesquite Slabs for the Bench Seats
They each have a slight curve on the seat and back rest. The back rest on each bench is composed of four slices of mesquite wood that are 9/32" thick. They are cut and then epoxied together and shaped into the curve. The same process is used on the base apron to match the curve of the seat. It is also used on four other smaller pieces that serve as braces for both accent and strength.

They are really taking shape and coming along.  Lou's God Son Travis will be visiting from New Jersey  for a good portion of September and we hope he will be able to lend a helping hand on this job.  Just hope working with mesquite in the Texas heat does not do him in.
Barney with Mesquite Bench (partially assembled & clamped together)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Finding Passion and it's HOT !?

I'm only gonna mention this once. It's HOT! Okay I'm back to visioning the thermometer at 70 and the Llano River rushing full of cool, clear water.....

A July Wedding Lou & Cheryl Quallenberg
This week we celebrate 16 years of marriage.  Our Sweet 16!  It is a marriage full of passion and passions. We have been through our share of good times and bad times, surviving all of it with lot’s of laughter and of course love.  I wanted to focus this month on passion because that is what started us down this journey of mesquite furniture making.  It is a passion for this unique, unusual, cranky, craggley, old wood that got us to this successful point on our path of mesquite furniture making.    

Passion is the fuel that takes an idea and pushes it into creation or reality.  

The Arnosky Family back then.

Lou and I got married on a flower farm in Blanco / Wimberly known as Texas Specialty Cut Flowers.  I was still a career girl with a passion for flowers.  With my Horticulture degree from Texas A&M, I had conceived, created,  implemented and managed  the floral department at Central Market - a new concept store for HEB Grocery Company at the time.

The Arnosky Family and their company Texas Specialty Cut Flowers were and still are ALL about a passion for growing flowers.  It shows in the beautiful product they produce.  It is hard work growing cut flowers in Texas but they do it with such grace and  I am still  to this day in awe! I still have my passion for flowers but my health has dictated a much less physical lifestyle for me.

We are spending our 16th Anniversary at the Inn above Onion Creek a place where we hope and expect to find a passion for food, hospitality and life..... 

Passion can be seen, heard, tasted, smelt and felt.


buffalo skull
Ira Kennedy's "Spirit of the Buffalo"
Between Two Fires Web.jpg (646425 bytes)
Ira Kennedy's "Between Two Fires"
Passion can be seen in the unique works of Ira KennedyIra’s work is a unusual mix of folk,  native American, aborigine, and pointillism.  His style while ever evolving has blossomed recently as he nears his 70th birthday.

His passion for art has been there with him all along. From his youth when he lived in New York City (1965-1970) participating in the art scene and a show with Andy Warhol, to his creation of Enchanted Rock Magazine, up to this day as he paints in his new style on a patio, boxes, canvas and even deer as part of Llano’s Trail of the Deer Art Project.  We have enjoyed watching his passion flame again knowing full well that Kathy was the spark that set this man afire.

I recently discovered Pinterest and want to share it.  I kind of think of it as a place where folks can collect their passions - just be careful it can be addicting.  You create boards with subjects of your choosing and pin images of your choosing to them. A sort of virtual collecting (or hoarding as the case may be)  of the things you like, "your passions." You can see a few of my passions on my boards here:
Just remember I DID warn you.

Danny Brooks
Passion can be heard in the voice of one of our local favorite singer, songwriter, musician Danny Brooks
take a listen here: 

That is a mild one for him but "Good love is hard to find" and it sort of fits this blog post theme.  He is a regular at Fuel Coffee House here in Llano and while most of the time I am a work widow (he can't help it it's his passion!), if Mr. Brooks is singing I can usually get a "date nite" full of wonderful live music, friends and foot stomping! Danny Brooks WILL get you up out of your seat.

You can also hear a passion for ALL things Mesquite anytime you talk to Joe and Amie Prest of  The Mesquite Company in the United Kingdom.  They are responsible for this interesting bit of press on Lou Quallenberg in the UK:
June 6th, 2011 
By dukemedia_uk
The world of contemporary furniture design is replete with many great artists; those whose work is informed by abstract concepts, their designs honed by the elite design schools of Europe and America’s costal Universities. While the fruits of these designers are often spectacular, and the rewards of finance and recognition similarly so, few possess the passion to eschew this glamour to pursue the path of a genuinely traditional craftsman.

Lou Quallenberg, however, is one such man who distinguishes himself profoundly- in his life as well as his work- from this urban culture, and subverts egotism to allow nature to shape and inspire his designs. Quallenberg did not come to furniture design through the now more customary college route and was a relatively late convert to the craft, having begun his career in photography.
The New Jersey born designer was brought up in an artistic household, and his parent’s home doubled as a photographic studio. Quallenberg quickly became interested in the medium and, it was assumed that he would ultimately follow in his family’s footsteps. However, even as a teenager he displayed the need and ability to express himself in a more physical medium and, at just 15, began building and modifying chopper bikes years before the “American Chopper” television series made the practise so celebrated and lucrative.
As expected, Quallenberg began his professional artistic career in photography, shooting for premium advertisers but, as with many artists, it was love that most profoundly moved and shaped his actions rather than finance- a characteristic that would one day be expressed directly through his art. The young artist met Catherine Walker, whom he would later marry, and so enthralled by her passion for her home state of Texas, moved to Llano where the couple set up a gallery. But with a recently discovered love of and gift for woodwork, Quallenberg came under the tutelage of his father-in-law, Steven Walker, who guided his nascent abilities until he was able to find his own means for expression as a designer and a carpenter.
Keen to display his love for his adopted state of Texas, he became excited by the native Mesquite trees and their distinctive pattern and properties that made them ideal for radical furniture designs. Rather than dictating the shape of his designs in the manner of conventionally schooled designers, Quallenberg became excited by the possibilities of “Live Edge” design. Live Edge is neo-rustic style in which the designer allows the natural shape and pattern of wood to dictate the piece, creating truly individual pieces of work that elucidate an ongoing relationship between the artist and nature, between man and his environment, the results of which can be spectacular.

Echoing man’s earliest attempts to conquer his environment and bend it to his will, this primitivist approach to furniture design has become highly sought after as it is so distinct from the cold, abstract designs comprised of leather, plastic and metal that remain so popular amongst more fashionable, metropolitan designers. The concept of Live Edge as a paradigm was first contrived by Japanese-American George Nakashima in the 1940s. Nakashima was interned during the Second World War and his eyes were opened to traditional design and craft practices when taught how to use rural Japanese hand-tools by a fellow internee named Gentauro Hikogawa. Upon his release, Nakashima employed his newly learned skills shaping locally sourced wood and incorporating blemishes, knots and nooks into the designs as features of the each piece. In 1946- less than 12 months after the end of World War Two- the Japanese American won the Architects’ Gold Craftsmanship Medal, and his work went on to earn him a near legendary status that saw multiple awards and recognition in the United States and abroad, his former studio in Pennsylvania is now even on the US National register of Historical Places.

Given the historical import of the style, Quallenberg’s work has an impressive legacy to live up to which his output achieves quite spectacularly. Using the local Mesquite, the designer fashions a truly unique range of tables, beds, wardrobes and other custom items unlike any others on the market. The wood is unusually strong and dry- making it an ideal tool for the imaginative craftsman, and the beautiful colour and variance of tones provide artistic inspiration, including a convention of inserting turquoise stones into crevices to stunning visual effect. Likewise, the unusual and varied curves characteristic of the timber gives rise to highly unusual shapes that are both natural and striking in a manner that could easily grace the most contemporary and abstract displays.

There can be little doubt that Lou Quallenberg challenges many of the assumptions regarding innovative modern furniture design, but his passion is clear and the product sometimes exquisite. In both life and in art he is an iconoclast and a worthy reminder that exciting design is not confined to elite metropolitan centres, boutiques and display rooms, and that in striving for the future, artists should be wary in neglecting the richness of the past.
Lou’s website is located at
His official UK suppliers may be found at
The writer got my name wrong but Lou said he had the new Princess Catherine on the brain and besides I am his "Princess".  Awww! Things like that help make 16 years fly by. The story with photos can be found online here:

Eva's Holtzer House Cafe & Old World Catering
Passion can be tasted especially in the food of our dear friend, and "Mesquite Muse" Eva Broad.  She had a restaurant here in town “Eva’s Holtzer House Café” serving Swiss-German Style Food. Schnitzels, Certified Black Angus Rib Eye, Salmon, Leg of Lamb, Quail and more. All prepared with Fresh Handmade Sauces.  Her food creates music in your mouth touching spots you never knew you had.  Lou has a certificate from her for "Hamburgers for Life" and you can bet he likes to collect on that when he can.

Since Eva's Holzer House Cafe is gone now and you won’t likely get a chance to taste her passion for food,  I’ll tell you about another one....
Fleur de Blé  a real French bakery in Marble Falls. Owned and operated by Jean Claude and Beatrice Walter from Lyon, France. It must be passion for them to get up every morning at 1 or 2 am to start the days baking.  Their bread is incredible and oh so fresh and don't get me started on the pastry my teeth are sweet - all of them and their baking is pure magic!   Huge THANKS go out to Marta Stafford at Riverbend Fine Art (a passionate art advocate / art lover / art collector / art gallery director) for pointing us in their direction and for being such a joy to work with!


Treehouse Lab's Tung 50 Orange 

I'm sure you can smell the passion in the two above mentioned in TASTED because many argue that you cannot taste without smell.  I won't get into that argument, but I do want to take the opportunity to mention the wonderful smell of oranges the shop takes on when Lou is applying his finish.  

Lou Quallenberg currently uses a natural plant based finish, Tung 50 Orange as his standard hand rubbed finish.  It is made right here in the United States by Treehouse Lab.  It smells like oranges so no obnoxious overwhelming fumes. It is  a natural  product so it is better for him and the environment and that makes it Win/Win!


New Ad Design.What do you think?
Passion can be touched and felt in the finish of Lou Quallenberg’s Mesquite Furniture.  Well it can probably be touched, seen, smelled and heard in most of his pieces also.  Heard you ask?  Well  yes, heard "calling out" for you to touch it.

The pieces do vibrate with  his creative energy and love. But seriously we have clients that say they cannot walk by their piece without touching it.

And of course passion can be felt in the heart.  We have found ours and we hope that you have found something in your life that you feel passionate about.  If not what are you waiting for? 

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