Sunday, 13 February 2011

Hobbies that become more than hobbies: (Formally) Introducing Heller&Heller Furniture

Wood shavings.  When there are wood shavings, life is good.
I have a lot of hobbies.  People who know me personally know this.  People who have tried sharing physical space with me know this better than anyone [as they grit their teeth in memory of my ever-expanding pile of craft stuff.]

Sometimes, a girl just has to make things.  I think that is why I became an architect - this built-in desire to create, whether it is with my own two hands, or whether through the plans I create for others to implement [although also like an architect, I want them implemented MY way.]

I do admit that I inherited this problem from my father, and it is by no means unique.  But in the effort to do something about it, I'd like to introduce our little venture, Heller and Heller Custom Furniture.
Our most recent commission, a wine table inspired by our client's beautiful Persian carpet.

My dad worked for many years for a large corporation.  While this helped give the family the funds to take awesome vacations and send us kids to overpriced universities, it also made him pretty miserable.  While he was working, woodworking was his serious hobby, but now that he has retired, this has turned into a more dedicated pursuit, aimed at becoming a self-supporting business.  Since retiring, he has taken a ton of classes to help in refining his skills and learning new techniques, has attended a few conferences for traditional furniture makers, and is currently president of the Washington Woodworker's Guild.

 Macasser ebony jewelry box interior.  Look at those tiny dovetails!
The second half of this equation is me:  at architecture school, I did some dabbling into furniture, with an emphasis on design.  And the result of this is our custom furniture design company, in which I listen to what a client is after and draw pretty pictures of my interpretation, and my dad turns them into actual solid pieces of furniture. (This description makes me feel just a tiny bit like a police sketch artist - way more to it than that.  Not to insult any police sketch artists.)  I can make furniture too, but the way our lives are organized right now, my role as a designer makes more sense.

We recently joined a group of artisans at, which so far seems to have connected us to quite a few people looking for heirloom quality stuff.  This also allows us to post pieces Dad has already made for immediate sale, without the hassle of Etsy (although we might be starting up something on Etsy too - more info to come on that.)

One of our many interests is in marquetry, which is a technique using veneers to create patterns or images.

Boston Federal Table

My final two furniture pieces at school: an Art Nouveau lady's writing desk and chair.

My second piece, a Chinese-inspired mantle clock (complete with gorgeous mechanical movement.  Thanks Dakota Clock Works!)

So check us out, and if you like what my dad and I are churning out, I invite you to friend us on Facebook (Heller & Heller Furniture) because when I get around to it, we will be adding more photos!  I will be occasionally featuring a piece on the blog as well.  We have some exciting new prospects coming up, so stay tuned!

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