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

3 comments: said...

Our hearts were CRACKED open as we were informed of the loss of Uncle Dave.

pearl bracelets said...

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Maureen said...

Hey Cheryl and Lou, I LOVED this blog post. I need to come to your blog more often. You think like I do, Cheryl ... and I appreciate your analogies, metaphors and just, well, just the way you write. I think of the crack letting the light in, kind of like the broken pot. Or the wounded healer... an archetypal concept that translates beautifully to creating art from trees. Anyway, thanks for the mention. And for the thoughts of us... I miss you guys. And Les and Tauni too. And I love love love Lou's furniture. It is so beautiful. And so original. I wish we can someday maybe do a trade so Tim and I can own a piece of Lou's. (maybe when we have a bigger house?) [grin]