October 7, 2013

Maine rustic furniture maker lets nature take the lead

The raw materials at Randy Holden’s Norridgewock studio are likely to be roots and antlers.

By RACHEL OHM Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

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Randy Holden stands in his Norridgewock workshop next to a table he crafted. Holden recently won an award for best artist in woodworking at the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival in Wyoming.

Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

click image to enlarge

Randy Holden of Norridgewock creates unique furniture using the existing curves and characteristics of the natural wood. This table uses acorn shells as decoration.

Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Years later he was on a bicycling trip with his wife, Linda, in Tasmania, where he saw a handmade chair that brought the idea back.

There are three pieces of furniture in Holden’s studio, including the “Fallen Angel” piece, which he estimates will sell for about $20,000. It took him three months to build, starting from the time he extracted a series of roots that form the base of the table.

Most of his sales are to people looking to furnish second homes, many in the Adirondacks or in popular ski resorts towns such as Aspen and Vail in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. He is also currently working on a commissioned cabinet for a San Diego beach house.

Korn said he admires Holden’s work because he uses ordinary objects in nature to create contrast and visual appeal.

“He does a lot of juxtaposition of elements – bark, natural wood – he gets a lot going in terms of color and texture. I think he plays with those elements really well,” he said.

In “Fallen Angel,” which Holden said reminds him of an angel that has turned evil, he has dyed the roots that form the base black and accented the table with other pieces of yellow pine dyed black. The cherry boards are gently curved like the wings of an angel, and deer and moose antlers adorn the tiers.

Rice said that today the materials used to make rustic furniture depend on where the maker is and what material is available to them, although there are some modern rustic makers who sometimes incorporate more exotic hardwoods or nontraditional materials including copper or other metals into their work.

Holden works from both wood and disassembled antique furniture that he incorporates into new pieces, often for decoration more than function.

Last year he finished building a barn, where he keeps horses, chickens and a collection of wood planks, gnarly sticks and burls, the knots of a tree, most of which he gathers in the late fall when sap has left the trees and they can be cut down without the bark falling off.

“You have to have the woods. If I’m looking for a piece I might collect 100. You have to have that,” said Holden.

He also collects old furniture parts – legs off a table, the round pedestal of another table, drawers from another – and reassembles them, weaving the treasures with deer antlers and other oddities, and often works with no plan of what the piece will end up looking like.

“It kind of takes on a life of its own. There’s only so much you can do with these giant roots. You kind of have to let the wood take off a little bit for you,” said Holden. “It designs itself a little bit as you go.”

 

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at rohm@centralmaine.com

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