An Unusual Summer In New Mexico

It’s raining! Almost every day! It rained for several hours last night. The good thing is, the rivers, lakes and reservoirs are filling up again after a prolonged drought. And the weeds are much easier to pull. Of course, that also means the weeds are flourishing! Overall, we are really enjoying it.

For those of you who have one of our juniper tables, you have probably spent some time staring at the rings. They show a history of the rain here in New Mexico. As you know, each ring represents a year of growth. Though normally very slow growing, with very small rings, once in a while there is a much wider ring which also appears lighter in color. This year will be one of those rings!

Yesterday, as I was clearing off my desk (as rare an event as a rainy year in New Mexico) I came across an interesting article that we clipped out of the Albuquerque Journal many years ago. It charts the growth of the Pueblo Indian tribes in relationship to the inches of rain received in NM for the last 2129 years. I think you will find it fascinating! We did! As you can see, we have been much drier in past years.

Sources: Henri Grissino-Mayer, University of AZ; Museum of NM; National Park Service; Smithsonian Handbook of North American Indians.

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You Need to Enjoy Your 4th

What is the “American Dream”? What does it mean? 

I think many would describe it as the opportunity to use all the potential that you have to become something great. I think others see it as the opportunity to have a big house, lots of land, and maybe even a few weeks of vacation.  Some people see it simply as the opportunity to have freedom… freedom to express yourself, to choose your life career, the freedom to be what you believe God made you to be.

These are all amazing things and in the history of the world we live at a time when these freedoms are more available around the world than any other time in history. What was coined as the American dream has become a reality across the world. Sometimes I literally sit down in a lounge chair with my favorite drink and contemplate that. Basking in the sun, and just enjoying this amazing world that God has given us.

Which brings me to something I want to ask you. Do you ever just live in the “dream”? I believe we often live our lives pursuing the dream. We become anxious. It’s easy to feel this when so many things aren’t going our way. It’s easy to feel this way because sometimes even when most everything is going our way we focus on the things that are not.

You know what is hard? Taking a day off.

I can tell you this right now that if you can’t take a day off you are not living the American dream. Our bodies were not made to work seven days a week. Honestly if you are able to take that day off I guarantee you will be more effective and efficient for the other six days.  If you have a day that is off limits it will also let people know that you are in control of your life. And let’s face it. If you can’t take a day off you are not in control. You’re just juggling.

So as the 4th approaches I’m challenging you to enjoy it. Think about what it represents and take the time to live in that. Don’t let your life pass you by without taking time to live in it!

-Daniel Sanchez

Furniture Designer, Artist

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First Picking!

My dad went out today and picked cherries from his small orchard. It was the first picking from the sweet cherry tree since we planted it five years ago! I had to take some pictures for you all so see!

On my dad’s 60th birthday my 3 brothers, 3 sisters and I all pitched in and bought him one tree each. It doesn’t take much to make something great when you have that many people pitch in and do something simple like buy some fruit trees for $14 apiece.  I always think of that verse in the Bible that talks about a full quiver and what a blessing it is! As a father of four amazing girls I can see that myself!

But now with these 3 full baskets of cherries and more on the tree it paints a picture of a fruitful life. When we acquire things in life and know how to keep them they do return a beautiful gift as the days go on. It’s not always consistent, especially with cherry trees in New Mexico! (We usually have a late freeze that kills the blossoms or tiny fruit!) However, if we can be diligent through the hard times and water our trees even when they don’t have fruit, one day they will return an amazing crop to us.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer!


-Daniel Sanchez,
Designer and Artist

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Old…Really Old…Memories

Andy’s a fantastic artist, but he started his career like anyone else. As his wife of 42 years, I thought it might be fun to revisit some of those memories.
My first birthday gift from Andy. It was a rock, painted with flowers and a verse. His mother told him firmly that he could not give me a rock for my birthday. She wasn’t empressed! So he took a piece of wood and melted wax into it and made a candle. I loved it, of course, because it was made by him. A few days later he gave me the rock too, and it still sits by our bedroom door, as a reminder of our first days as a married couple.
His first table. Andy says he wishes he had a picture of it for his scrapbook and for a good chuckle. It was a little plant stand with a plate set into it. It was never entirely stable, but it looked good.
His first sale. Remember those clocks people used to make back in the 70′s? The hands and numbers were glued to a piece of wood and then shiny plastic resin poured over it. I still have one he made as a gift to his parents. We inherited it when they passed. He went door to door and sold a few of them.
His first business. It wasn’t wood as you would expect, it was a body shop. His brother, who had the experience, helped him, and they opened their own shop. Andy decided he liked wood better than metal and left it after a couple years. His brother still operates it 40 years later. It’s still called Sanchez Bros. Body Shop.
My daughters gift. Christen was about 3 or 4 and Andy decided to build her a cradle for her dolls. A visit to the hospital was the result, the first and the worst injury to Andy’s poor, hand-carved hands. But the cradle was later finished and I think my daughter may still have it.
Our first big job. About 10 years later, in 1989, we began our business. Andy was working out of his brother’s storage area. He had to unload it every morning and put it all back at the end of the day. He was mostly doing repair work, but a friend helped him land a job for a local restaurant, Pete’s Cafe, still a landmark in Belen, NM. He commissioned about 60 chairs and ten tables and he gave the owner a really low price. Since we had no storage space, we brought them into our living room. And it was a tiny room to start with! We were waiting for a house in Colorado to sell before we bought, and we had seven children in a small two bedroom rental at the time. He also got some of the children and myself to help him doing sanding and staining and moving furniture around. They were good chairs and tables though; the restaurant used them for many years. In fact, the last time we were in there, which was several years ago, they were still using them!
As we look back over the last 42 years, it is with amazement that we behold the path God has taken us along. We are grateful for all of it…the hard times as well as the good because all of it built our character and created what we are today. I believe God does give certain people the gift of creativity or intellegence or whatever, but it is rarely developed to its full potential without the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears.

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Being an Artist

I never went to art school. No one ever handed me a diploma and said, “Congratulations! You are officially an artist.” It doesn’t work that way. Some people like the idea of drawing or designing for a living but that doesn’t make them an artist. No. To be an artist you need one simple thing: Inspiration.
So what is an uninspired artist? Depending on the field you are a craftsman or a technician or a graphic designer etc. All these titles help define us as artists and in general.
I’m a carpenter. When I first design a chair I’m calling on inspiration. If I don’t have any, I stop thinking. I want to be inspired before I start and when I finish. That’s why I haven’t designed a new chair in over 5 years. Now, once the chair is designed I need to recreate that chair for every customer. Usually 12 chairs at a time. That is when I switch hats from artist to craftsman. I want to be the craftsman; that way the customer gets the piece of art that I designed as an artist. This is how it works as a working artist. We don’t always get to call on inspiration. Some times we have to focus on design.

Do you have inspiration? I think this is something we really need to ask ourselves before we get into a career that demands it. You need to be inspired and have a source of inspiration. My source is the wood and stones we use in my Dad’s shop. When I design chairs its a feeling that I want to feel when I sit. When I write, it is the blank space in front of me demanding to be filled.
All this being said, I would like to point something out. There are good technicians, craftsman, designers, etc. and bad. But as far as artists, there are no good or bad. Just real or pretend. Someone who runs a brush on a canvas without any inspiration is a painter, not an artist.
So tell me. What inspires you? When you wake in the morning does the taste of coffee ignite your soul? Does the smell of sawdust draw you in? Is it the feeling of an old book in your hand drawing you close to authors of long ago? If your answer is yes, then, whatever energy you turn out from that is your art. Whether that is brewing coffee, raising your kids or splashing paint on a canvas, you are an artist and that task is your art.
Drop a comment and let us know what your inspiration is! I’m sure it will inspire us as well!

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A Custom Company

Table and Inlay

In 25 years we have grown a lot as you would suspect.  We’ve made lots of changes, upgrades, and improvements as any company would over a period of time. Some days the only thing that seems the same is the medium in which we use to make our products (and even that has evolved!) However, there is one other thing that has never changed: Custom. We have always pushed to make every piece as unique and custom as possible for every Job.

When we started our name was Andy Sanchez Custom Furniture. (And that name wasn’t followed with a dot com. Hard to imagine really!) We did primarily custom cabinets and as we grew we added in the chairs and tables. None of this was with rare and exotic woods like we are known for now, and not a stone to be seen in any direction. Today our signature pieces are larger than life tables with stone inlays that flow into our tables making it hard to imagine that they didn’t come that way!

Pine Coffee Table

Custom Pine Coffee Table

Recently we had the privilege of making a coffee table from a slab our clients had growing on their property. A beautiful 2 foot by 3 foot pine slab cut horizontally showing off the beautiful growth rings! They also asked us to use turquoise that they provided themselves, including heirloom turquoise.

We gladly do pieces like this because it gives us a connection to our clients that we would not otherwise have. The beauty of doing custom work is just that. We not only get to do beautiful work but we get a deep connection with people through the work. A blessing indeed and one of the main reasons we still have “custom” as a part of our mantra.


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Fixing Dents in an Oil Finishe

Over the years we have had to fix many amazing accidents. From chandeliers falling from the ceiling onto the table to bears breaking and entering and leaving their mark on our work! (I think it was Baby Bear lashing out at society for his lack of a food and bed!) We are always worried about how we will fix these accidents but because of the forgiving nature of our oil finish we have always been able to restore our work to it’s beautiful nature.

Not every accident is quite as extreme though and so we have created a step by step video to help you or your carpenter restore your piece from minor dents that may occur. The video and it’s script are below! And as always, feel free to contact us with any concerns you may have about your one of a kind, Andy Sanchez piece.

1: Step one is to place a damp rag on top of the dented spot with a hot iron ready.
2: Once the rag is in place use a hot iron to steam the dent.

  • This process can take up to 10 to 20 minutes so be sure to keep the rag moist.
  • (If the dent does not raise please contact a professional.)3: Once the dent has risen take a sheet of 400 sandpaper and go over the surface.

3: Working with the direction of grain will keep scratches from occurring.

  • The paper will gunk up so you will need to use different parts of the paper or a new sheet.

4: After you get the dents out you will need to go over the area with 600 sandpaper. Widen your work area to fade it into your finished surface.
5: You will need to repeat the last step with four zero steel wool. Lightly pressing as to not dig grooves.
6: To finish rub a Tung oil onto the table. Do this three to four times. Be sure not to let the oil dry without wiping off.
7: Finally use Minwax Finishing Paste and let set.
8: Use a shop rag to wipe off and your table is ready for daily use again!

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A Great Auction in Montana

We are on our way home from the Western Art Week in Great Falls, Montana. There were 11 art shows going on during the week. The main event is “The Russell” which is an auction which benefits the Charlie Russell museum, open since 1969. The museum brought in a record 7.8 million dollars this year! The record sale this year was a Charlie Russell oil painting called, For Supremacy, which sold for 1.5 million, which was the highest selling painting ever at “The Russell” auction.

We were in the Great Western Living and Design Show which is “the new kid on the block” being only three years old and features furniture, functional art, fashion and art. Thousands of people are in the small town of Great Falls from all over the country and even lovers of the Old West from around the world. The challenge for the Living and Design show has been to get people to come and see what magnificent treasures they have displayed there. The sheer quantity of art in town during the week is overwhelming, but this show has things that are both beautiful and functionable.

This year, as I mentioned in a previous blog, was the first time the museum allowed furniture in the auction. There were three furniture artists from the Living and Design show with pieces in the “First Strike” auction that were auctioned and sold. Andy and I both went and had a great time. Excitement was certainly in the air! The result was that more people heard about the Western Living show and on Saturday.  The attendance was definitely larger. We made some great contacts and a few more sales. We plan to go back next year. Hope some who read this may decide to come.

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Stuff Happens…

One of our customers spoke in a panicky voice…his marriage was in danger! He continued to explain that he had set a box of cleaning products on his table top and the fluids had seeped through the box onto his table, causing much damage. His wife would possibly “kill” him!

Another phone call, “A bear broke through our window and climbed across our beautiful new table leaving deep gouges in the finish! Help!”

And another, “The link holding a large antler chandelier above my table broke loose! The chandelier hit the marble in the center of the table first, luckily softening the blow, but it caused some damage as it bounced off the marble and hit the side of the table as it crashed to the floor. What can we do!?”

It happens.
Sometimes it happens before you even receive the table. The gorilla, sometimes called a “shipper”, is the first danger to your furniture. We have learned some things through the years which may help you if you need to ship your furniture.

1st: Use a small independent shipper. Their name is on the line. They are more careful. A big company may take your things off and on at more than one location, multiplying the chance of damage. Also, the shipper will probably just be a hired worker and he doesn’t have the same risk as a small shipper who will be held personally responsible for any damage.

2nd: Read or ask for references. A lot may be revealed through other’s experiences.

3rd: We use blanket shippers if at all possible. They will move your furniture on a dolly and not use a forklift on it. They set your pieces up in your home, placing them where you want them. Craters think too highly of the strength of the crate. We had one drop the crate right off the back of the truck because he didn’t have anyone to help him. Broke that table top right in two!

Probably the greatest danger to our furniture is that wild beast called “A Child”. One may toss his toy truck with great force on your new table top. Our grandson “painted” Aaron’s new table with nail polish. Our sons, in their teen years, while practicing their snowboarding techniques, in a leap from our kitchen island to our tabletop, caused mysterious dents. We didn’t learn the truth about that damage until they were safely married and out of our home.

Before you despair….and decide to replace all your warm beautiful wood with cold metal furnishings…


-1st. Andy, Aaron and Daniel can do miracles. They start with damaged wood, remember? They can repair anything “stuff” can do to it. You may well get another piece of inlay out of it!  By the way, in case you’re wondering, the endangered marriage described above was saved. We were actually on our way to Colorado for a show when he called. We went straight to his home and fixed his table before his wife ever found out!

-2nd. Daniel is producing a video showing you, or your handyman, how to repair it yourself. If Andy is not always easily available and most repairs are pretty simple. Feel free to call or email us any time with your questions. The video will be available soon and we will be putting it in the next blog article as well as putting it in the next newsletter.

-3rd. Some damage should not be repaired. They are memories! We have an end table that our grandchildren have decorated with tiny dents which we have decided to leave as is. They grow up too quickly and when we see those dents we see a picture of their chubby little two-year old hands. (If you are now a grandparent, have you noticed that the naughtiness of a grandchild is so much cuter than the naughtiness of your children ever was?)

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What a Winter!

What a winter it has been for some of you!

Here in New Mexico we do get some snow but it doesn’t usually last very long. We did get a good storm last weekend. Here are a couple pictures. One is a picture of a trailer load of big logs that Andy wants to cut up for tables. There is a video on our facebook page of him starting the work on a saw he made himself. The other picture is of our courtyard and the adobe wall that Andy also built. Would love to see some of your snow pictures as well. You can put them on our Facebook wall here.

We will be starting a trip up to Montana soon for the Western Art Week, and I suspect we will get all the snow we will ever want to see along the way. I’ll try to post some of those pictures on our Facebook page as well. We are pulling a 32 foot trailer and it can get prettying interesting sometimes. (Andy didn’t build it! ;)  Last year it took Andy 22 hours to go from Denver to Great Falls, MT, normally a 12 hour trip.


Rejoice! Spring is coming!

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