Artist makes unique furniture from hedge wood

Staff writer

Abstract art pieces make people think, which is exactly what David Woody wants customers to do when they enter his new store in downtown Florence.

Woody moved from Oklahoma City to Florence five years ago, looking for a quieter life.

“I’ve lived in a number of cities and I didn’t care to anymore,” he said. “I wanted some peace and quiet, and it helped that we found a house in town we love.”

In April things came together for Woody to buy a building downtown to house his artwork and furniture he makes.

“I looked at places in other areas,” he said, “but I always had my eye on this building, and this town needs businesses. I’m hoping people will come in and see something different.”

Since April, Woody has been redoing the building and turning it into a gallery and working space. He plans to open Aug. 1.

He decided to open his store to have room to build more pieces.

“Without a place to move this stuff I’m just putting it in my house, and when it fills up my house I stop building,” he said. “Plus this town needs things to bring people in, not saying this would do that, but it’s another store people can visit while in town.”

Woody is an artist, and works with many media including paint and stained glass. His most notable pieces are made from a type of wood that most people cast aside — hedge.

Woody makes furniture, lamps, canes, tables, and a slew or other items out of hedge wood he gathers to create abstract pieces of furniture.

“Nature puts it together, and I pick it up and see different things that can be done with it,” he said. “The wood speaks to me.”

Woody got the idea from a friend who was making similar furniture.

“I thought I could do that,” Woody said. “I love art of all different types so I thought I could figure out how to do this and it won’t be like what everyone else does.”

Often hedge wood is thrown away or used as firewood because it is very tough, Woody said. Most people building similar furniture use cedar, which is a much softer and makes it easier to work with.

“People don’t realize how pretty it is,” he said. “I love it.

“My philosophy is God made the trees, Mother Nature took care of the trees, Father Time made them grow, and then I came along.”

One of the reasons Woody loves hedge so much is because of its unique growing tendencies. Unlike most trees, hedge will grow around objects and attach itself to dead or live trees. One of his favorite pieces features three trees that grew into one seamless branch.

“If you look through the holes you can see pieces of the dead tree,” he said. “If you look at the bottom you can see two different types of tree rings where the trees morphed into one, but if you look at the rest of the branch, there are no visible seams. The trees are perfectly molded together.”

Woody often finds pieces he thinks are interesting while walking tree rows with his dog, Ben.

“I’ll see a piece and put it near the ditch then come back and pick them up,” he said. “Oftentimes I don’t know what I have until I start cleaning pieces.”

Cleaning hedge requires debarking, weeks of sanding and countless coats of polyurethane to make everything smooth and glossy. Once pieces are cleaned, Woody looks them over to see where they would best fit.

“I leave the pieces in the shape nature gives them to me,” he said. “My goal isn’t to find the perfect wood; it’s to create something that enhances the beauty of the wood just how it is.”

Once the wood starts speaking to Woody, it doesn’t take long for a table, bench, or other item to take shape in his mind, but it takes Woody anywhere from one week to three to build a piece.

“Some wood just lends itself for a certain product, but it may take a while before I can find other pieces that fit perfectly with each other to form something,” Woody said. “That’s why I always have so many pieces working at once.”

Woody also recycles old wood and has made several pieces out of wood from the torn down Florence High School building.

 

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