This year at Safari Club International there will be a couple of new artists amongst the crowd. Lisa and Loren Skyhorse are in the booth next to us and we are collaborating on several pieces. They are skilled leather artists that specialize in beautiful saddles. Each of their saddles are custom made to meet the need of the horse and rider. As artists who love working with their clients, we can really appreciate what the Skyhorses do for their clients. A saddle is a very personal accessory to the equestrian sport. It joins the horse with it’s rider and each time they unite it is important that this indispensable piece of equipment is well made and designed to represent the style and taste of the rider. Their saddles include intricate leather carving and silver accents.
As well as saddles, the Skyhorse’s do plenty of other projects with their leather work all the way from personal hand bags to architectural designs. We have been talking with Lisa and Loren over the past few months and have come up with a collaborative idea for a rocking chair and some home decor. Make sure to come by and see it at this year’s Safari Club International show in Reno, Nevada, January 26th-29th. Our booth number is 3302-3401. We will also be displaying a beautiful saddle and saddle horse that we collaborated on in November of 2010. We have a few photos of the saddle below.
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Many people ask questions about the wood we use so I would like to answer a few of the common questions. There are many types of juniper all over the world. The variety we use is called alligator juniper. It grows almost exclusively in Southern New Mexico, Northern Arizona, and Northern Mexico along the Mogollon Rim. It is a protected tree and can only be cut in New Mexico (where we cut ours) if it is completely dead. It gets its name from the bark which looks like alligator skin.
We only use dead-standing wood (totally dead tree that is upright) for our furniture. The wood that is harvested for us has been dead for approximately 20 years or more. This ensures that it is completely dead and also well cured and stable.
The whole process is very eco-friendly. Every piece is carried to our vehicle in order not to scar the forest floor by dragging logs across it. We cannot take our vehicles off the road. Because of the size of the trees this means we must slab the logs in the forest.
The area the trees grow is in a high altitude and very dry. The trees grow extremely slow. One time we set our 9 year old son to counting the rings. He came back to us and said that it would take too long but he counted one inch in several places and the count was between 50-60 rings per inch so the tree was approximately 1500 years old. Smart kid!
Alligators are extremely resilient having a resin that insects do not like and rarely infest. They survive many forest fires and strong winds. If a tree burns on one side it will continue to grow on the other side which can make determining its age very difficult. They estimate one 14 foot diameter tree to be from 3000-6000 years old. I read about a tree in AZ which is 27′ 4″ diameter but there was no age estimate given. Their age and environment give the wood amazing character and beauty. We love the fact that when a table is made from this wood their owners get a view of history that few people have ever seen.
If you are interested in more information Wikipedia was a good source. For example I learned that the Native Americans used the juniper berries for a female contraceptive. I never knew that!
Dead Standing Juniper
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For the past 21 years we have mainly spent our time in furniture. As God has led, the furniture has taken us down the route of art.
We started with bowls.
In the 1990′s the gnarly trees that we used seemed only good for burning because of their gaping holes and large amounts of curl. Like them the small pieces of wood looked only like firewood. They were too small for end tables and too thin to turn for traditional bowls. So we carved them. We don’t know whose idea it was or where the inspiration came from but we know God had His hand in it. Aaron was the forerunner for the bowls, and they turned out beautiful. However, they were a side project and we usually only worked on them during the weekends.
Then in 2008, Daniel was working on a bowl for a donation piece to the poor children in Africa, but the bowl just didn’t seem to be taking the form he wanted. “We let the wood dictate the function” as Andy has said, and that is exactly what happened. About to give up on the piece, Daniel turned the sculpture upright and saw exactly what the wood was doing. It was a shape similar to a body with a bloated stomach. He called it “Hunger”.
Again, Aaron ran with the idea of sculptures. Taking ideas he saw in the wood he sculpted “Delilah” and “Twister”. Now, as time has allotted us, we have developed our “Dancing Sculptures” line and our “Old West” line.
We will keep you posted on our other sculptures that are developing. We have a few other lines of sculpture that we are praying about and are hopeful that God will allow us to develop in the next few years.
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It was a beautiful time of year to be in Sedona. The weather was beautiful and the people hospitable. Sedona Arts Festival was a first time show for us so we were very exited to be awarded first prize for Wood Art. We hope to be able to turn the glory back to God because he is the one that has made such beautiful wood that we get to work with every day. It’s easy to see his glory in the rings of the junipers revealing their ages of up to two thousand years old. As we use the redwood, once considered unusable because of it’s curls and burls, we think of how amazing it is that they could be buried as land-fill for a hundred years and still be usable for beautiful tables. From the wood to the semiprecious stones God created it all and we are thankful for a chance to see it.
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We are very excited to be going to the Sedona Arts Festival this week-end. It has been a while since we have done a show in Arizona. When we first started doing shows most of them were in the “Grand Canyon State” and we loved doing business with our neighboring state. If you are in the Sedona area be sure to come visit us. This is the last show we will be doing until December at the Cowboy Christmas in Las Vegas NV.
Sedona Arts Festival
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