May 23, 2024
In The Hands of Fred Wahlen, Furniture is Both Art and History

Fred Wahlen reported he was never genuinely superior at art. His prospects see items in different ways.

“He’s a home furniture artist,” explained Marsha Krzyzanowski.

Marsha and her spouse, Steve, have 5 pieces of Wahlen’s specialty wooden furnishings in their Fish Creek property, such as a personalized-created espresso bar and plant stand. 

The Krzyzanowskis’ desire in his get the job done was ignited three or four several years back when they were searching for furniture for their residence. They wanted something a little bit rustic and hadn’t observed everything they liked. They transpired to be purchasing at Twisted Tree in Sister Bay and loved the strange woodwork in the retailer. It was just what they have been hunting for, and the man or woman guiding it was Fred Wahlen. 

Image by Brett Kosmider

Wahlen, 56, has been concentrating on what he phone calls his “creative work” for about 10 several years, but his woodworking vocation began in development making and rehabbing properties. He went to higher education in New Orleans and returned to the region just after Hurricane Katrina to assist rebuild properties. 

1 of his assignments was reconstructing a property that experienced been constructed in the 1850s. The operator required to rebuild with conventional supplies from that period of time, which meant cypress. A marriage with a area sawmill introduced Wahlen to what has come to be his desired medium: sinker cypress. He explained that sinker cypress wood is outlined as logs that received missing as they floated in a river from a forest to a sawmill. 

“A whole lot of these logs have been so old and heavy,” he explained, “that they would sink all around the mill or turn into detached [from the log rafts]. They would sink to the bottom of the bayou or the river, and they’ve been left there to be observed in contemporary occasions.”

Wahlen said the logs he utilizes have been underwater for 100 yrs or far more, and they are ordinarily identified unintentionally when another person is developing a dock or dredging. Cypress is a straight-grained wood that he finds simple to perform with, but he sights sinker cypress as specially wonderful.

“When [the logs are] underwater, the minerals give it a true character — different colors,” he said. “Depending on the minerals in the particular water that they lie in, it could modify the wooden from just a darker brown through several various shades of the spectrum: inexperienced, reds, oranges, yellows. The wooden lends alone to fantastic magnificence as soon as a piece of furniture is produced from it.”

Wahlen showcases that attractiveness in pieces such as benches, tables and doorways, letting the pure color of the wooden glow and masking it only with apparent lacquer. Several of his parts attribute a live edge, or the purely natural edge of the log. 

Right before COVID-19, Wahlen bought his furniture at Coastal Classics in Sister Bay, but throughout the earlier year, the pandemic-pushed improve in demand for out of doors areas has kept him fast paced with standard development assignments. Most not too long ago, he worked on an outside patio for Casey’s BBQ in Egg Harbor. 

While Wahlen does not have any official training in woodworking, he does have a good deal of passion for wood and its tale. The self-described record buff has investigated the sawmill and town where by he resources a ton of his sinker cypress. 

“They experienced virtually depleted the trees in the place that the sawmill was in, and it had been there for 25 many years or so. The city that the sawmill was in burned down,” he stated, “and they under no circumstances rebuilt it. That town just grew to become a ghost city. Which is why a ton of the lumber was dropped and left there for foreseeable future generations to obtain.”

Wahlen famous that at the time they have been lower down for lumber, the cypress trees were generally 400-500 decades old.

“You simply cannot obtain the elegance of that aged wood,” he stated. “You just cannot minimize down a tree now and get the exact same point. That age is not reproducible.”

Wahlen’s function offers his clients both a piece of artwork and a piece of history.

“He delivers out the ideal characteristics in the wooden,” Steve Krzyzanowski claimed. “He has this tremendous inventive aspect that I really do not imagine people often see.”