Category Archives: Cliff Spencer Furniture Maker

So Happy Together

The BoxCo Debut Exhibition has moved from AltBuild and now resides at Fifth Floor in Chinatown.  The reception will be Saturday, June 12th, from 6-9pm.  We hope to see you there!  Also, you can check out some more images of all the pieces here.

BoxCo Installation at Fifth Floor

-Robert Apodaca

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California Lumber Safari

What did you do this holiday weekend? We took a trip to Santa Cruz, CA to see some friends and decided to stop to visit a unique salvage wood source in Atascadero, CA. About 175 miles North of Los Angeles on the 101, Forgotten Woods has an amazing inventory of exotic and domestic salvaged hardwoods.

Forgotten Woods is ideal for the wood turner, but there are lots of treats for a furniture maker as well.

The figure on the exotic species are amazing to see the least, but we were very interested in the work that Rusty, one of the owners, does in his tree clearing business. Salvaged trees have histories, stories to tell. Like most lumber-philes, Rusty knew the stories of his harvest and shared them with us.

Monterey Cypress

This Monterey Cypress is a map of a battle between two neighbors, where one side of the fence continually cut off the branches and the other side let it keep growing. The tree just grew over the trimmed limbs.

White Oak

This is a seventeen foot long, 3 foot wide white oak tree that would make an amazing dining room table.

Myrtlewood

Elm

If the tree is not slab-worthy, Rusty cuts walnut, myrtlewood, elm and sycamore in to blocks for turning.

Reclaimed Ebony

This is some Ebony that apparently was sitting in a local man’s garage for 30 years, from when his uncle came back from a military post in the Philippines, where the lumber was used for fence posts. The uncle knew it was valuable wood, took it back to the US and distributed it among four nephews before he died. This particular nephew figured he hadn’t used it yet, so he hopes it will find a good home.

Scout and Rusty playing with hand-made wood tops and toys.

Woodworkers come in many types, from salt of the earth to presidential, but they all share a common craziness about the endless offerings of wood.

AltBuild Debut

I brought my camera to capture the excitement that was sure to be moving around in our space at AltBuild and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to make sure the battery was charged before leaving home. Foolish... I managed to get some good footage of some of our work, but William Stranger saved the day.  William was very generous in allowing me to film him while he worked on his utensil and as you see in the film, he offered up very insightful words that embody what all of us at BoxCo feel in one way or another.

This selection of our work will show again at Fifth Floor Gallery this month, so I will have a new opportunity to film everyone’s work and present the LA Box Collective in all it’s glory.   Stay tuned for AltBuild Debut II.

BoxCo’s Altbuild Debut Photos

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SUSTAINABLE FURNITURE COLLECTIVE DEBUTS AT ALTBUILD HOME SHOW IN SANTA MONICA — MAY 7-8

NEWS RELEASE
April 27, 2010
Media Contact: EK Boatright-Simon, (310) 439-0005

Sustainability is not a new idea but the imperative to live a sustainable life is. We are radically rewinding our approach to a time when value was placed on fine craftsmanship, long-lasting materials and sound design. Looking forward, we value the precious materials that our society wastes.

– from L.A. Box Collective mission statement

The 12-strong L.A. Box Collective (Boxco), a select group of Los Angeles-based professional furniture makers committed to environmentally-conscious design and production, will make its debut at the AltBuild Home Show event on Friday and Saturday, May 7-8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

While working in various modern styles, the individual furniture makers that make up Boxco are collectively devoted to fine craftsmanship, sound design, and the use of long-lasting, reclaimed, and other sustainable materials. The group has come together to showcase what Los Angeles has to offer in the way of beautiful design, crafted locally and sustainably, and ultimately to encourage buyers to look for the “Made in Southern California” stamp.

“Los Angeles gets a lot of attention for its vibrant history of design in furniture and architecture, for people like Sam Maloof and Charles and Ray Eames,” said Cliff Spencer, founder of Cliff Spencer Furniture Maker and a member of the collective. “But we want people to know that this level of design and talent is not a thing of the past, it’s alive and well in Marina del Rey, Downtown, Culver City, Frogtown, Pasadena, all the soft, industrial pockets of L.A there are talented designers and artisans who are using all kinds of materials to reinvent Southern California design. We want to draw attention to this current generation of players.”

Sam Moyer, founder of Samuel Moyer Furniture and another member of the collective, adds, “It benefits our nation’s economy to buy locally, and it is the sustainable thing to do. We want people to know you don’t have to buy from Europe to get furniture that won’t emit toxins. We’re making responsible furniture right here in Los Angeles.”

The other 10 members of the collective are Sidecar Furniture, caseandgrain,      whyrHymer, Robert Apodaca, Stranger Furniture, Edward Pine Stevens, Riiska Design, and Topher Paterno.

Furniture makers in the collective have made a pact to: 1) use a comprehensive approach in their work that includes sustainable design, materials, fabrication and finishes; 2) make objects that use resources mindfully, having no toxic impact on the environment and lasting for generations; 3) buy recycled materials, supplies, and tools in the studio and office, and recycle; 4) source locally; 5) share resources to facilitate the growth and integrity of Los Angeles’ small businesses, rooted in sustainable products; 6) educate others about sustainable principals through community outreach, gallery shows and the media; 7) fabricate original designs, influencing the design community and promoting environmentally friendly practices.

Members of Boxco often use materials that would otherwise be disposed of including wood production by-products or off-cuts (scrap), trees from urban or suburban areas that are dead, fallen, fire kill, diseased or a nuisance (urban salvage), orchard trees that are unproductive and cut for replacement (orchard salvage), wood or other material recovered from landfills or dumpsters (“trash”), and logs recovered from the bottom of lakes or rivers.

If wood is not reclaimed, members purchase lumber from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC-certified). These forests are managed according to guidelines which protect the forest environment, regulate the impact on local communities and ensure sustained yield and species diversity for long-term economic viability.

Boxco members also use products derived from fast-growing, non-wood sources such as FSC-certified bamboo and grains, recycled glass, metal and paper, as well as board with no-added urea formaldehyde (NAUF) or no-added formaldehyde (NAF), water-based or low toxic glue, and zero or low-VOC finishes. They design for high material yield, and energy efficient production, often using hand tools, natural light or air drying.

And why the box?

A box is one of the simplest things a woodworker can make, conceptually, but it still requires skill to execute properly. Members of the L.A. Box Collective use their skills as box makers to design and fabricate fine furniture. Tables, chairs and casework utilize the basic design elements, structural physics, and techniques of box making. They have sides, a top and a bottom.

For questions about the L.A. Box Collective or to set up an interview with members, please call EK Boatright-Simon at (310) 439-0005, email lizkiv@hotmail.com, or visit the website at www.laboxcollective.com.

L.A. Box Collective, Cliff Spencer Furniture Maker, Samuel Moyer Furniture, Sidecar Furniture, caseandgrain, whyrHymer, Robert Apodaca, Stranger Furniture, Edward Pine Stevens, Topher Paterno, Riiska Design

Saving Urban Salvage

Leigh here.

Our friend, Rick, is the manager of a large community in Los Angeles. Also an avid wood turner, he hates to see great lumber go to waste. As the manager, he knows when a mature tree in the area is going to be cut down, whether by a resident because they are landscaping, or if the city is chopping it down for fire safety or widening the freeway. He called Cliff and I to see if we wanted an 18″ diameter eucalyptus.

Enter, the LA Box Collective. We know that Samuel Moyer loves to break out his sawmill, so a few weeks ago, we did it.

By the end, we had quite a few nice pieces, and a lot of wet sawdust. This wood is really green, so it will have to dry for at least a year. It will probably be more appropriate for a dimensional piece, not a slab, but we’ll see how it dries. We found a nice place for ours to live in the shop until then.

What is crazy to me is that Rick let us know that the city will be chopping down two more even bigger trees in the next few months to make the freeway wider. (Wider! Don’t they know “if you build it, they will come, if you don’t they will carpool.” OK, that’s not a real quote. What do I know, maybe it’s for a light rail.)

Unless Rick or we or someone makes a concerted effort to save this lumber in our own city, it goes right to the landfill. Correction, usually it is chipped, and then put in a landfill. At the same time, there are beautiful old growth forests across the globe being harvested for lumber.

I ask you, does this make sense?