Up and down the interstates in Missouri and Illinois, dilapidated barns are ubiquitous. They naturally blend with their surroundings as though they’ve been there as long as the grass growing alongside them. From their frequently shabby conditions, it’s often difficult to imagine them as anything but derelict. But some time a hundred years or more ago, family, friends, and craftsmen gathered to erect a structure that would be would the hub for that family’s farm. A farm that would not only be the source of income, but also sustenance, for many generations.
When those barns were erected, they used the materials on hand. Mostly felled pine and oak- which were plentiful. Well before the days of massive lumber yards, they purchased or prepared rough hewn or milled lumber, then joined it with a combination of peg and beam, mortise and tenon, and good old fashioned square nails. This would be the shelter for their livelihoods of agriculture and livestock.
As the years rolled on, the structure was just left to its own devices. Sure small repairs might have been made, but the real work–the farm work–took priority. But the barn endured, providing the backdrop to incalculable hours spent there, creating conversations, experiences, and memories.
We can understand how to the people driving down the interstate, those rickety structures don’t call to mind a vibrant family farm thriving only a few generations ago. We see how those families, through decades of livestock, storage, and heaven knows how many memories, probably never looked up at the roof, or loft, or joists, and thought “That would make a beautiful table.”
Luckily, there are folks like us, who try our best to do both. Every piece we make strives to honor our customers, our materials, and our craft. There is a lot of joy in building something that will stand the test of time, providing a setting for our customer’s new memories, while preserving the unique qualities of the memories it’s already been privy to.
A piece of furniture, like a barn, is a venue for experiences, not to be confused with the experience itself. Certainly you want a reliable and pleasing venue, but it’s less about the table as the meals and conversation shared around it. And, just like a third-generation farmer could look at his barn and imagine the day his grandfather built it, a table that will last generations, sitting in a dining room 50 years from now, will conjure the specter of the many meals it’s seen before.
That is the beauty and the joy of our craft. We preserve the soul of the wood (and I cannot imagine a material with more soul than wood), give it new life and place, and send it off into the world to only increase in emotional value with craft and workmanship that ensures it will continue to be a beautiful and reliable venue for experience in our customer’s lives. It’s a joy for that to be the purpose of our working lives, and even more so to get to share it with our customers and their families.