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A Seattle wood shop where trees live again as art.
Entering the 8,000-square-foot workshop of Meyer Wells (206.282.0076 meyerwells.com) is
like venturing into a wondrous wooden graveyard. Giant planks born from all manner of tree—
elm to walnut, maple to Madrona—are stacked vertically against the walls. Launched in Interbay by Seth Meyer and John Wells in 2006, the shop has become the place for greenistas to go for designer furniture. Both in-stock and custom works are available, and prices vary widely ($550 for a small fir block table to $7,500 for a grand Sequoia table and bench) for good reason: this is a time- and talent-intensive process. Before a piece is close to retail-ready, a tree has to be
salvaged, typically from a neighborhood within an ecological 10 miles from the shop (and usually after a call from an arborist needing to remove a dead or unsafe tree). Said tree then is sliced into more manageable slabs or chunks (a suspenseful moment when unique patterns and colors are revealed) and air- then kiln-dried for a year or more.
Next, designers and clients weigh in on whether the wood will be a table or chair, knotty or plain, its edges straight or distorted. Finally, after several rounds of sanding, the water- or plantbased finishes are applied.
“Wood is an unruly accomplice,” notes Wells. “To make it behave in a predictable manner often seems a fool’s errand. ”He adds, “There are no shortcuts to success in the
business of craft.” Amen to that.
Owners John Wells and Seth Meyer know no shortcuts when it comes to their wood works.
Tables-in-waiting.The walnut McKinley Nightstand ($3,850).
Originally published in March 2010