Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
Avery Smith, a wood-carving artist, gazes at a mural he recently created, on a recycled piece of wood.
By M.J. Subiria Arauz
An old piece of furniture may be junk to most, but to Avery Smith, of Riverdale, it's so much more.
Smith, a wood-carving artist, said he recycles old wood furniture to create many forms of usable artwork, including murals, tables, decorative signs and key holders. He calls his business, "A.R. Eclectics," and all of his works are created at his residence, inside a room that serves as his office and work area.
"My business is solely based on recycling battered furniture," said Smith.
He said the inspiration for his creativity comes from music, his emotions, as well as personality traits from his customers, and their design ideas.
Smith said brainstorming is never involved to create his art, but rather, it comes to life once he begins the work. "It's almost like I touch a piece of wood and I almost know what it can become," said the 35-year-old. "I don't actually know what I am going to do with the wood, until I hold the wood, see it, convert it and mold it into an unusual piece."
Some of the unique pieces Smith has created include a finished table, with items such as bunk-bed pieces used as legs, two sofa feet, and cabinet handles as artistic touches.
He said he lets his customers share their ideas before he creates a decorative sign. On average, a 4-by-8 piece of recycled wood is used, and the sketching process begins. Once the drawing is rendered on the wood with a pencil, the extra wood around the sketch is disposed of. The piece is then carved and painted, he explained.
Smith said his signs include names, numbers, letters and bible verses. "What the person wants to see, comes to life," he said. Prices for signs range from $15, to $20, said Smith.
The wood used for murals is normally about 19 inches by 20 inches in dimension, and is usually recycled table tops, he said. It takes about 12 days to carve the image and paint it, he added.
Smith said a drawing of two hearts, with a sword going through them, with a serpent in the background, is displayed on one mural. The art represents two hearts that are in pain, because they are torn apart, he said. The sword symbolizes the pain, while the serpent represents the form of torture experienced by the two hearts.
"It's like the spouses who are here [ in the U.S.] wondering how their other half is doing in Iraq," said Smith. He said prices for murals range from $20, to $30.
"Basically, whatever I get my hands on, nothing goes to waste," he said with a smile.
Whenever he needs furniture, he said, he asks his neighbors if they have wood furniture to donate for his art creations. Once he obtains the furniture, he takes it apart and salvages the pieces, as well as the bolts and screws that he might need. He collects items such as tables, night stands, chests and book shelves.
Although he concentrates on recycling wood into art, he said he also refurbishes old wood furniture and sells it like new. In addition, he makes bird houses, and dog houses for his customers.
His passion for wood carving started when he lost his Nintendo Developers' System (DS), a portable gaming device, on a C-Tran bus in 2007, while on his way home from Atlanta Technical College, in Atlanta, where he was working to get his General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
He said his gaming device cost him about $130, and he wasn't going to buy another one anytime soon. So, with nothing to do, he began to recycle wood to create art, and his business developed, he said.
Eventually, Smith said, he wants to expand his services and work with metals, and is hopeful his welding certificate will assist him in this area.
"You can't just [work with metal] without having any knowledge of running a welding machine," he said. "I am not use to sitting down .. .and not doing anything else," he added.
For more information, contact Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org.