Finest furniture in Texas

I was in the Lone Star State recently to judge the Texas Furniture Makers Show at the Kerr Arts & Cultural Center in beautiful Kerrville, TX. I’ve judged the show twice before, back in my previous life as the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine. With my new woodworking book on the horizon, they asked me to be their guest once again.

First of all, the Texas “hill country” is one the most beautiful places I’ve been in the world–and unknown to many outsiders. Secondly, Texas knows how to make fine furniture.

The Kerr Arts Center is housed in the old Kerrville post office, and is as charming and professional as can be. If you don’t know how open and welcoming Texans are, well then you’re just missing out.

You can go on the show’s website to see who won prizes this year, but here are my personal favorites. I hope they inspire you as much as they did me.

A few determined, art-loving citizens turned the old Kerrville post office into a gorgeous arts center, complete with huge galleries, a thriving gift shop, meeting spaces and more.
This is just one of two big gallery spaces, which host a wide variety of shows.
Leo Litto of Austin won Best in Show for this sleek tray table made of pearwood and sapele veneer. He made it out of love for his dad, who was gravely ill in the hospital and surrounded by inhuman machines.
Every inch of this table is flawlessly designed and sculpted.
The top looks like a tiny ocean.
Jim Wallace, a local woodworking hero, took the People’s Choice award with his jaw-dropping “Oz” cabinet. The laser-cut marquetry is inspired by the movie.
The cabinet opens to reveal a Technicolor world, just like the film did.
My personal favorite at the show (I’m a bit different) was this desk and chair inspired by The Jetsons, a 1960s cartoon that presented that old-timey Tomorrowland view of the future. It’s called “Educating Elroy” and it was crafted mostly from MDF and PVC pipe by Jody Fletcher of Seguin, TX.
Fletcher used a regular mirror, a two-way mirror, a ring of LEDs, and a Lexan disk to create this endless tunnel into the future.
Lou Quallenburg, who usually takes home awards with benches and tables made from live-edge slabs of mesquite, is continuing his foray into sculpture, and took top honors in the art-style category this year.
When the heart broke during sculpting, Lou learned about a Japanese technique for making repairs and embracing them, by highlighting the fix with gold dust. “Broken Heart” was born.
Barry Bradley made a bold departure from his earlier, more traditional work with “Fenced In,” which has a steel base that invokes barbed wire, and a mesquite top. The judges rewarded his courage and creativity with top prize in the Texas style category.
I love the ebony butterfly key and how it matches the ebony-toned epoxy used to fill cracks, and also the texture Bradley added to the edge.
My trip included a visit to the gift shop, where I found these amazing bowls, sculpted from Manzanita burls by my fellow judge and dear friend Danny Kamerath.
This table by Spider Johnson celebrates one of Texas’ finest troubadours.I love it.



6 thoughts on “Finest furniture in Texas

  1. What language is thiis? Please translate.
    From the Woodcraft website:
    “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.”


      1. Mr. Christiana,
        I encountered the “placeholder” in an email I received from Woodcraft of Fort Worth promoting the furniture show in Kerrville.
        In an earlier time I was a student at a Catholic seminary where our classes were taught in Latin. Since “placeholder language” looks like Latin, I tried to translate it, but ran into a “tabula rasa”.
        Thank you for your response.


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