Walnut Slab Tables
Furniture maker Robin Wade does not see what will become a table, chair, or some other functional item when he looks at a slab of walnut timber, blank canvas though it may be. "More often [I have] thoughts of appreciation of the service the tree provided, sorrow to see it go, and joy that it might continue to function in the future rather than end up in the local garbage dump rotting and [emitting] carbon into our atmosphere," the artist says. "Sometimes I will run across a slab and know instantly the general direction to go with it," he says. "Other times I won't have a clue what to do with a slab." Evidence of his sometimes wayward creativity leans vertically against the walls of his slow studio in abundance: tall, one-of-a-kind timbers waiting to catch Wade's eye and be transformed into a unique piece of art that happens to function as enduring furniture, too.
Some logs or timbers have been waiting in Wade's studio for quite a while, and will consider themselves fortunate when they are selected for a custom ordered piece. All the trees from which these timbers came grew and lived long lives within just 60 miles of the studio they inhabit indefinitely before their reincarnation into a table or chair.
Some of them are victims of storms and tornadoes, their wood rescued and given a second chance to serve another lifetime or two…or three - Robin Wade Furniture is built to last. None of the walnut logs or timbers lining Wade's studio's walls arrived from being imported or through clear cutting. Wade's pieces are designed to accentuate and celebrate the variety found in nature. Sometimes working artistically with natural materials can be unpredictable, a fact that might increase the tension a designer well aware of the precious resources he is shaping must feel. For example, when a stunning console table beautifully decorated with spalting coloration that comes from the early stages of rot broke apart in the middle of production, panic ensued. But "there are times when accidents help shape amazing work," Wade remembers. "I calmed down the next day when I realized it would make an even more amazing coffee table - and it did."