Monday, December 31, 2012

"Drifting" along in December

We picked up Lou Quallenberg's "Drift" Mesquite Slab Coffee Table from The13th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show this month and brought her to the shop to be stripped and then refinished. Lou's standards are very high and since the finish was rushed in order to get the piece to the show on time, he felt he needed to strip it and redo it.  Apparently the judges had no problem with the finish since they awarded "Drift" the "Best Texas Style" Award and the WOODCRAFT® Sponsor Award at the 13th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show.  We also finally got "Drift" into the photography studio for a few beauty shots. But the very best news of all is that "Drift" was also delivered to her new home in the Hill Country this month! 

The name "Drift" came to us as Lou was working on the piece.  The sculpted part of this floating three part table almost looked like a piece of driftwood. One artist observer commented "mermaid" about the piece.  "Drift" is a new concept piece "including the sculpture or art into the actual coffee table." We have looked and not seen anything else like it online or otherwise. It is definitely the direction that Lou's work will move in as he continues to stretch and grow artistically. Much more sculptural and artistic but still functional. 

"Drift" Description:
This new concept piece for the artist represents an evolution in his distinct design style. The piece combines and incorporates his signature, sculpted, live-edge style with a more sculptural, art piece, edge slab. This Texas mesquite coffee table features the artist's signature floating top as well as a floating, sculptural, conversation piece, edge slab. The “float” is achieved atop seven stainless steel pins, welded to four steel bars that are screwed into routered grooves in the table top. The base was kept straight and simple to keep the focus on the sculptural top. A black epoxy is used to fill selected holes cracks and crevices. Lou attempts to draw the soul of the tree into each piece he creates. If you get a chance to look at and touch his work you will probably find it talking to you, maybe even singing. It is a goal Lou Quallenberg tries to reach in each of his pieces. 
Dimensions: 16” height x 32” width x 104” length 
Interestingly the name "Drift" was used by Snarkitecture  of  Brooklyn, New York for their really incredible pavilion entrance at this years Design Miami. Guess the name was "drifting" around and landing on the hearts and minds of artists here and there.  We are really glad because now Design Miami is on our radar and who knows perhaps our future?

We have been so wonderfully blessed this year with clients and collectors that REALLY get what Lou Quallenberg Studios is all about. A recent email from a client included this message:

Dear Lou,
.............You are one of these rare masters, who pay attention to all details and create timeless objects of beauty.
Here is a fragment of the poem that came to my mind as I unwrapped the blanket:

All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.
Nothing useless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.
For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our to-days and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.
Truly shape and fashion these;
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees,
Such things will remain unseen.
In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.
Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
Beautiful, entire, and clean.
Happy Holidays, Tad
Lou Quallenberg's Drift
WOW!!! We recognized bits of the poem "The Builders" from "The Seaside and the Fireside" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) but what an honor to have a client/collector say this about your work.  Obviously the love, passion and attention to detail, DO come across and speak to those willing to listen.

In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;

For the Gods see everywhere.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As December and 2012 drift to a close we THANK YOU for your support of this mesquite furniture making adventure. We wish you a beautiful and wonderful New Year, full of health, wealth, wisdom and most of all family and friends!

Friday, November 30, 2012

THANKFUL for this Magnificent Mesquite Adventure

As November days speed to a final end we find ourselves so very thankful for the many wonderful people who have made this magnificent mesquite adventure possible. 
The Gallery at
The loyal client base that has after a first experience in creating a custom, mesquite piece with Lou Quallenberg, then come back for a second, third (or even more) commissioned piece. Our client's privacy and confidentiality is always protected and treated with absolute respect so we won't reveal names. They know who they are and we applaud them each and every one for their support and friendship. Without them Lou would not be able to do what he does with mesquite. 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 interest and investment in Lou Quallenberg Studios.

Our dear friends Karl and Mary Rhodes who are always there to lend a hand, a truck, a trailer, a camera, book, magazine or whatever else might be needed in the moment. Their sweet and thoughtful encouragement and friendship has helped tame this rocky road we have been traveling on. We could not have done it without you both.

Eva and Tyson Broad, the muse and her mister, for allowing us to use their beautiful home as a gallery and storehouse for the uncommissioned larger pieces of Lou's work that are not in a show, gallery or showroom. It was Eva that first tempted Lou to try his hand in mesquite. Her table is the piece that launched this beautiful journey in mesquite. She is the mesquite muse. They also provide a safe, warm and loving home for our Barney (and previously Louie) when we must travel for a show, delivery or a much needed break.

Thanks go out to Steve Walker and the Walker family for allowing the shop to be built on their home site.  Steve's creative and engineering mind has helped many undo able projects come to fruition. His constant tinkering has kept old machines running and created impressive jigs.  Without his packing skills we would certainly be at a loss and probably need more than one truck or trailer.

Shawn Walker for his dedication to learning the craft and dutiful sanding.  His calm driving skills and ability to handle a trailer have gotten us on time to deliveries and long distance shows.

Heather Walker Martin for never saying "NO". Whether it is to ride along to the show to check on a piece. to let Barney out for a much needed bathroom break, unload a trailer of wood or take me to then store when I am not feeling well and cannot drive. She is always there for us.

Mesquite and Pecan Cabinet / Hutch by Lee Westphal
Many thanks go to Mary Frances Camp and Jesse Handel of Galeria 19 Fine Art for the beautiful Gallery space and knowledgeable representation that they have provided for the past year in Fredericksburg, Texas. They treat Lou's mesquite pieces as art and that is after all what we have been reaching for: Art that functions as furniture. We are thankful to be a part of such a thoughtful and beautiful art collection. Check them out when you are in Fredericksburg or look around online

We thank Ann & Barry Bradley of Artisans at Rocky Hill who allowed us to be a part of their Gallery for several years and knew from a business standpoint when it was time to go our separate ways. Stop by and see the wonderful works by their Texas and Hill Country artists.

We have to thank the guys that keep our mesquite inventory slabbed, planed and kiln dried. For the regular sized stuff Lee Westphal at Sage Creek Farms does a spectacular job milling and air drying. We appreciate Lee and Kristina's friendship. They also make wonderful soaps and other handmade gifts. So check them out online at: 
Brandon Berdoll's Pecan Slab Table

This pecan and mesquite hutch created by Lee Westphal would make a great gift for someone special. It won a Judges Special Award at the 13th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show which ends December 8th.

For milling our oversized logs and kiln drying our inventory we use the very professional services of Brandon Berdoll at Berdoll Sawmill. Check out the website: and like them on facebook: HERE  

Brandon Berdoll's pecan table won an Honorable Mention at the 13th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show  and would make another great gift! (Sorry for the poor quality image it really is beautiful.)

Speaking of the 13th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show we say a HUGE round of THANK YOU'S to this year's Chairman Larry Moss and Judges:

Philip C. Lowe is an award winning furniture maker, author, and founder of The Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, internationally known for its dedication to excellence in the art of classical woodworking techniques applied to the art of furniture design and construction. In 2005, Phil received the Cartouche Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Society of American Period Furniture Makers and in 2010 he was granted the 2010 Bulfinch Award for Artisanship presented by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America.

Gordon McDougal is the owner of McDougal Gallery of Fine Woodworking in San Antonio. Gordon completed a one-year apprenticeship with Jeff Green of Bucks County, PA, and attended the Marc Adams School of Woodworking where he earned a Masters Level Certificate in Woodworking.

Randy Johnson is the Editor in Chief for American Woodworker and Woodwork magazines in Eagan, MN. Randy studied art and industrial arts education at the U. of Wisconsin-River Falls and later received a Master’s degree in Industrial Technology Education from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, with an emphasis in furniture construction and design. Prior to joining the media world, Randy owned a custom furniture business specializing in the designing and building of custom furniture. 

Lou Quallenberg's Award Winning Sculpted Mesquite Coffee Table "Drift" (Photo by Chris Kemler)
They awarded Lou Quallenberg's "Drift" Table the "Best Texas Style" Award. This makes it the fourth time he has won this award. (See them ALL on our website here: Texas Furniture Makers Show.) Lou's Drift Mesquite Coffee Table also won the WOODCRAFT® Award chosen by the sponsor from WOODCRAFT®.    Read more about the "Drift" table at: Eyes IN and next months  mesquite musings blog post.

The Show ENDS December 8th, 2012
Full hall table
Frank Strazza's Exquisite Table
First Place (Best of Show)
Frank Strazza, Waco TX "Roses" Federal Style Hall Table

Second Place
Randolph Secrest, Spicewood TX Trunk

Third Place
Bert Ray, Wimberley TX "Blossom Table II"

Best Contemporary Style
James Breaux, San Antonio TX Haidinger's Brush" Table

Best Traditional Style
Caleb James, Katy TX Settee

Best Texas Style
Lou Quallenberg, Llano TX "Drift" Coffee Table

Best Art Style
Jeremy Grubb, Dickinson TX "Rising Sun" Console

Best Apprentice
John Burton, Arlington TX Blanket Chest

Woodcraft’s People’s Choice
Frank Strazza, Waco TX "Roses" Federal Style Hall Table

Judges’ Special Award / Fine Woodworking®
Lee Westphal, Burnet TX Display Cabinet

Judges’ Special Award / Alamo Hardwoods
Brooke M. Davis, Austin TX Intertwined Series: Bench

Judges’ Special Award / Alamo Hardwoods
Barry Bradley, Fredericksburg TX "Smoke Signals" Table

Judges’ Special Award / Allen & Allen
Danny Kamerath, Dallas TX "Kampa" Coffee Table

Judges’ Special Award / Dakota Premium Hardwood
Leo Litto, Austin TX Work Table

Furniture Committee Award /Artisans at Rocky Hill
Mark Seay, Plano TX Wind Rose Table

SAPFM Award / Society of American Period Furniture Makers
W. Malcolm Granberry, Houston TX Spine Chest

Woodturners’ Choice Award / Hill Country Turners
Caleb James, Katy TX Settee

Woodcraft® Sponsor’s Award
Lou Quallenberg, Llano TX "Drift" Coffee Table

Johnny Jones Sponsor's Award
Jon Percy, Austin TX "Fallen Leaves" Bench

Honorable Mentions:
Carl Powell, Bartlett TX KOA Top Table

Wayne Locke, Austin TX Chair

Wayne Delyea, Granbury TX Rocking Chair

Brad Dawson, Kemah TX Curio/Display Cabinet

Brandon Berdoll, Cedar Creek TX Spalted Pecan Coffee Table

Finally thanks go out to our MANY artist friends that provide advice, insight, encouragement and most importantly inspiration.  Please remember to support an artist this holiday season. Buy your gifts locally first, then Texas made, and finally Made in the USA!
See a list of some of our artist friends here:  ART and ARTISTS
Now is the time to...
support an artist

They bring beauty into our world.
They look at things differently.
They inspire us to be more creative.
Yet very few of them make good livings.
They enhance our lives and deserve encouragement.
Look for those who move you.
Support them where you can.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Time keeps ticking away

"S-curve" an early more primitive piece shown at 2011Texas Furniture Makers Show

Time is ticking away. The year is already winding down. Is it just me? or is time moving faster? It seems as if there is not enough time in the day to get all of the many things that are required to function in this day and age, accomplished. Most of the things originally considered time savers have actually snuck their way into the time waster category.  Cell phones make us slaves to their tones and vibrations.  The internet that connects us to everything and everyone, tempts us with meaningless info, cute cat photos, bizarre happenings, and viral videos. Don't let me get started on social media.....

Lou is often overheard saying he does not have enough time left in this lifetime to complete the many projects he has bouncing around in his brain.  I have seen some of his sketches and I know he is right. Don't get me wrong,  I know he will definitely be leaving behind an artistic trail of mesquite furniture and objet all photographed, cataloged and assigned to their original buyers and locations.  I suspect this feeling is true of most artists and probably one of the very catalysts that drive them to produce that thing that they each do so well - their own individualized "art."

We are currently under a serious time crunch as Lou tries to finish up a new piece for the Texas Furniture Makers Show and a few commissioned pieces that are due to the clients in early November.  This has been an incredibly busy year for us and we feel so very blessed to have such great clients, both old and new.  Last year Lou did not even have time to attempt creating a new piece for the Texas Furniture Makers Show and we ended up putting in an earlier more primitive piece.  Lou Quallenberg's work has become much more sculptural and artistic. This years entry piece will clearly show how much his work has evolved.

A Statewide Competition of the Finest Custom Furniture Makers in Texas
November 8 through December 8, 2012

Kerr Arts & Cultural Center
228 Earl Garrett Street
Kerrville, Texas 78028

Reception November 17, 5:30 - 8 pm

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm
Sunday, 1 - 4 pm

We recently had the opportunity to visit with our friends, Utah Artist Les Powers and his wonderful wife Tauni. They stopped by Llano on their way to a show in Austin to visit, see the shop and pick up some mesquite wood. Les makes such amazing sculptural pieces combining wood and stone that wrap, twist and weave around each other. Each one carefully named and thought out with a story full of meaning. His work can be viewed online at  During our visit Les made the same comment Lou does about not having enough time to produce all the work floating around in his head.  I think Lou feels the way about Les's brain that I feel about his.  "In awe" is a probably a simple way to describe it.

Sharing ideas and info.
Les Powers, Lou Quallenberg & Simba

Les Signing a piece for the show

Tauni makes a beautiful background
Les even stacks his wood artistically
We met Les & Tauni at the Western Design Conference in 2008 the first year it was held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We connected immediately and chose to meet up and hang out again at the Western Design Conference the following year, along with Tim Carney and his beautiful artist wife Maureen Shaughnessy - who by the way encouraged us to start this blog. Meeting and sharing with incredible artists is one of our favorite social pastimes. We met Tom Dean of Milo Creek Carvings at the 2009 WDC and continue to joke and tease with him to this day. We always enjoy connecting, sharing and feeding the inspiration and energy that occurs as artists gather, socialize and share.

This quote sums it all up: 
"Artists are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime.... Every day, artists face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because artists are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Artists are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another's heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.” - David Ackert

We would have never known about the show if we had not discovered the incredible work of Al Hone in a copy of the Sourcebook from the Western Design Conference. His work and the opportunity to meet him was one of the reasons we decided to do that final 2006 Western Design Conference in Cody, Wyoming. (That and the fact that Sam Maloof was one of the judges!)

Al and Mary Hone and their pup named Roxie are the authentic faces of Western art and design.   Al's award winning carved masterpieces and sculptures are so incredible in their detail and design.

Check out a few of his available pieces:

Spirit of the Tetons 46w x 26d x 30h
Executive Desk
Credenza: 93w x 98h x 22d   Desk: 60w x 32d x 30h

Longhorn Cabinet 90h x 46w x 21d
Raven Magic Mirror 52w x 44h

For  more take a look at his website:  Mary uses antique trade beads and creates beautiful beaded jewelry, leather work and accessories inspired by native Indian patterns and design. Together they are traveling the country in an RV, creating their art and living their dream.  I suspect that even living that lifestyle they still feel time leaking away here and there.  Who knows maybe quelling that feeling of time shrinking away is why they chose to pack up and hit the road in the first place.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.

A crack with Lou Quallenberg's Signature Bow Tie letting the light in on the mesquite project The Dancing Trees.

Perhaps from the title you have figured out that this post is about the cracks and crevices often found in mesquite and featured prominently in Lou Quallenberg's work.   It is also an homage to Leonard Cohen's lyrics "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."  Mr. Cohen was born on the 21st of  September in 1934 so it makes sense to feature him in our end of September Blog post and wish him a very Happy Birthday!   He will be playing  at Bass Concert Hall in Austin, TX on Wednesday, October 31, 2012, and Thursday, November 1, 2012,  at 8:00 pm (sure wish we could find a few tickets and hear him in person!) Be sure to check out the lyrics and video below.....
At the mill discovering cracks
Checking the cracks in the mesquite

What is it about cracked or broken things that seem to pull at our heartstrings?  Is it that we know a heart unbroken can never feel true love? Must one experience the darkness before they can truly know the light? Must things crack or break before the light can overtake the darkness? 

We have assembled a selection of photos of Lou's work that shows off the cracks and crevices so characteristic of mesquite.  Since Lou Quallenberg only uses mesquite it is only natural that his mesquite furniture projects will have cracks.  Each crack is a challenge and depending on the crack and the client's taste can be handled in several different ways. We will briefly touch on each.

A "Standard" bow tie prior to Lou's signature bow tie design


Lou's Signature bow tie was developed because he saw that he would need to regularly use wood bow ties in his projects and the standard bow tie was well, while functional, "standard." His stylized signature Bow Tie features the curves he loves so much.  We have had clients request a bow tie even if it was not structurally needed because it is almost like a signature, brand or label and it is beautiful to look at.

Lou Quallenberg's Signature Bow Tie
Once Lou's Quallenberg's signature bow ties began showing up in National Furniture and Art Shows we started to see other versions of original bow ties begin to develop and expand.   It's almost like permission was given to create your own.

Mesquite Lectern with large crack
Speaking of shows don't forget:
The Texas Mesquite Association
Annual Mesquite Art Festival
in  Fredericksburg, Texas
October 12th-14th 2012
The Texas Furniture Makers Show
November 8th-December 8th, 2012
in Kerrville, Texas.
(We sure hope Lou will have a piece finished in time!)

Spline in the mesquite table top to stabilize the crack


The mesquite spline is added to the edge of a piece the stabilize the cracks a bit more securely than the bow tie giving both internal strength as well as contrast in color for a design accent.
Man made curved "cracks"

MAN MADE  Cracks/Curves

Sometimes man made cracks are added to the Lou Quallenberg's designs. These are usually created in the curved mesquite laminates that Lou uses in his pieces bases to match the natural curves of a slabbed tops.

Inlaid turquoise is an option that some of our clients chose over the black epoxy cracks.   Lou is very particular about choosing each piece of jewelry quality turquoise with a pair of tweezers and placing it in its perfect spot along the crack or crevice.  It is very time consuming but the devil is in the details and this is one area where his work stands out because he will not compromise. Lou limits the use of turquoise inlay to an artistic sprinkling on only select cracks and crevices. A coat of clear epoxy is added to hold the turquoise in place while allowing it to remain beautifully visible. The end result is a strengthened and beautifully filled crack that is not over done.

Turquoise inlaid in Mesquite
Even legs get a spot of a Turquoise
For those clients that do not like the look of turquoise with the mesquite,  the cracks and crevices are filled with a black fresco filled epoxy.  It defines the line and serves as a glue to hold the piece together.

Turquoise inlaid table leg
Mesquite Mirror with Turquoise Inlay
Turquoise inlaid Mesquite Box
Another "Crack" of inspiration comes from one of our favorite singer songwriters Calvin Russell  (who is gone but not forgotten) especially his  song "A Crack in Time" the lyrics are pure poetry:
I came down the line 
Through a crack in time
Slipped between two seconds in the night
From the shadows I sprang
Someone screamed my name

And I headed for the morning light.
Some but not all cracks get a sprinkle of turquoise inlay
Cracks and light they just seem to go together  naturally  in nature, song and poetry. You won't find any better cracks than the ones in mesquite wood. Lou Quallenberg sure has an eye for finding the real beauties. The ones that would have otherwise ended up as someone's fire wood but now grace elegant homes and galleries with their unique allure. 

A cracked mesquite shelf
A hole in mesquite
A crack in the mesquite slab table top

Panel with a black epoxy filled crack.

Sculpted cracked mesquite shelf.

Cracks and holes in mesquite slab table top.
Dancing Trees in the shop letting the light in
Lou's perfect example of "cracks" that let the light shine in.
you can read more about Lou Quallenberg's Dancing Trees 
The Dancing Trees and Lectern full of cracks for light to get in.


I'm always inspired by this quote by artist Robert Smithson “A crack in the wall, if viewed in terms of scale, not size, could be called the Grand Canyon.  Size determines an object, but scale determines art.” 

The Grand Canyon a LARGE Crack!

We are currently planning a trip to see the Grand Canyon since Lou has not yet seen it in person.  I can't wait to see the influence and inspiration that this gigantic crack in the earth produces in Lou's work......

Now please enjoy a little Leonard Cohen:

There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

The birds they sang at the break of day
"Start again", I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
Or what is yet to be

Ah, the wars they will be fought again
The holy dove, she will be caught again
Bought and sold and bought again
The dove is never free

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

We asked for signs, the signs were sent
The birth betrayed, the marriage spent
Yeah, the widowhood of every government
Signs for all to see

I can't run no more with that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places say their prayers out loud
But they've summoned, they've summoned up a thundercloud
And they're going to hear from me

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

You can add up the parts, you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march, there is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
But like a refugee

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

That's how the light gets in
That's how the light gets in

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Two Sisters from one AMAZING Tree

That is one big Mesquite Tree!
Lou Quallenberg was quietly approached by an unassuming man at the 2006 Texas Mesquite Show in San Angelo, Texas. The man said he had a large mesquite tree that he needed removed from his yard. “Large Mesquite Tree” is a phrase that will create lots of interest at a place like the Texas Mesquite Show. Lou had been in the business long enough now though, that he knew one man’s version of a large mesquite tree was not necessarily what he himself considered a large tree. Expecting to be disappointed he took the man’s information and promised to drive by after the show and take a look.

Upon arrival at the given address Lou and his crew knew immediately that this tree was something special. It was indeed a large tree and even more important she looked to be full of beauty and spirit. “Looked to be” being the key phrase, because the favorite saying at Lou Quallenberg Studios is “Mesquite trees are like a box of chocolates, you just don’t know what your gonna get.” This popular saying had earned it’s place time after time with both disappointment and delight. This time Lou just "KNEW". (See Lou Quallenberg's Dancing Trees.)
Lou Quallenberg & Steve Walker: BIG mesquite Log.
While the tree spoke to them of promise she also revealed that she was a very complicated woman. She was not going to be easy to take. She was firmly planted on the side yard next to the house with large looming, branches dangerously close to the home. To make the complications worse she was 150 miles from the shop, home and the many extra hands it would take to pull her free.

Two months later armed with chain saws, three trailers, six men and a local tree removal service, Lou was on his way to bringing this special gift home. It took all day and all hands working together swiftly to get her loaded on the trailers and safely on her way to Llano. Many thanks go out to Steve Walker, Shawn Walker, Terry Martin, Karl Rhodes and Bill Gleason for their help in safely releasing this beauty from the ground.

Once in Llano the next challenge was to open her up and see what treasures she actually held. This was a particularly difficult challenge since her main trunk was 38” in diameter with an s curve of about 46” and Lou wanted to keep her whole if possible. This required a saw with at least a 48”opening. None of the Mills in Central Texas were large enough to handle a tree of this size. Lou was patient and determined and finally a month later, convinced a man in South Texas to attempt to open her up. This required another road trip this time 270 miles up and back. She was really putting on the miles but many more were still to come on this journey.

She was a big gal 12 ft long , weighing in at 3500 lbs, the mill foreman had difficulty unloading her with the hi -lo and at one point his wheels came off the ground. It took a full three hours to open her up and cut her into the desired slabs. Once she was opened up Lou had his answer, she was a box of Godiva Chocolate. The trip home was full of joy, he knew he had something special in that trailer rumbling behind him.

The next part of her journey involved a trip of 30 miles to the kiln for drying. The drying of mesquite is a very important step in the process. Mesquite has several beetles and bug pests that must be eradicated and if the wood is not dried properly it is susceptible to cracking and those little bugs will leave their telltale sign of fine sawdust ruining all of your hard work. This little spa vacation lasted a good 12 weeks and then she was ready for her trip back home. It was as she was being placed into position for air drying that Lou spotted the two book matched sisters and knew that they were both to be created into coffee tables.

With a tight schedule Lou worked his new girlfriends in, hoping to have at least one ready for the September Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While the table tops were inspired by nature and Lou was really just bringing out the character and soul of each piece, the bases were intricately created to match the curves of each top. The bases are sleek curves of laminated mesquite, a signature of Lou‘s pieces. Each curve created specifically to match the individual curves of each top. The natural slab tops float above the curved bases on steel pins giving the pieces a natural but also unique contemporary look. 
The signature laminated curves are created by slicing mesquite planks into 1/8th of an inch pieces on the band saw and then they are stacked together, glued with epoxy and placed into handmade wooden jigs. Once in the jig they are clamped in place and remain clamped for at least 48 hours. Each curve usually requires it’s own special jig. The “Sisters” each required 3 jigs per table.

Jackson” the more solid sister was bejeweled with inlaid accents of turquoise in some of the cracks and crevices that are characteristic of mesquite. “Sister” had more holes and sculptural aesthetic and since potential customers are always saying “Oh I love that piece I just wish it did/didn’t have turquoise in it” the decision was made not to add turquoise to “Sister” and to fill the spots with a black fresco epoxy instead.

After months of sculpting, shaping and sanding, the three week finish: a combination of sanding, oil and wax was lovingly applied. Both pieces were ready and the decision was made to take them both on the 1400 mile journey to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in hopes that they could both be shown together if space was available. Fortunately the space was found and the Sisters made their debut together that September at the Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming .

The trip 2800 miles up and back added a few more miles to the two sister’s journey. Seeing them together in Jackson Hole displayed in an almost yin yang arrangement caused Lou to request that the tables both be put together at the 9th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show in Kerrville, Texas. Jim Derby the Show Director at the time, agreed that they did look good together in that yin yang and found space for them to both be shown together in the show.

Sister” won their category “Texas Style Furniture” at the 9th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show in December. Making it the first of a three years in a row winning streak, that Lou Quallenberg won the Best Texas Style category.    A well deserved ending to a journey from tree to table.

Crated and ready to go to the UK
Crate arrives in UK
But that was not to be the final journey these two sisters would make. Because across the pond a new company was forming with a desire to promote mesquite around the world. This company formed in the United Kingdom was named: The Mesquite Company. They had been watching Lou's work in mesquite and had planned to visit Texas and the Texas Mesquite Art Festival in Fredericksburg hoping to find him and make contact and do business. They wanted to show his work in the UK and represent him in Europe as they introduced mesquite and mesquite flour to Europe.
An agreement was made with The Mesquite Company and Lou decided to send not one but both Sisters on this incredible journey over seas. As in the past he could not bear to separate them.  They are after all "sisters".

As fate would have it this adventure did not end with shows and accolades or even a sale. Due to an illness in the family, the owners of The Mesquite Company ended up back in Texas for an undetermined and extended stay. Therefore ending the promotion before it had a chance to take flight and get off the ground. A round trip of close to 10,000 miles is now being added to the travel tally of these mesquite beauties.

So as the US Olympic Team returns back to the US from London this month, so do these two amazing sisters. While some of the US Olympic athletes return with medals, MOST do not, but are grateful for the journey, the opportunity and the experience. That is how we feel about these two mesquite beauties. Their story remains to be told with the ending still unwritten.