Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Wayne Estes to Bend Willow into Furniture at Kentucky Artisan Center
On Friday, July 20, Wayne Estes of Paris will demonstrate how he bends willow into rustic chairs and furniture from 10:30 – 3:30 at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
Willow (Salix sp.) has been used by mankind for thousands of years because of its pliability and usefulness. As far back as 400 BC Hippocrates used an extract from the bark as a fever and pain reliever. China paintings from 1000 years ago show willow used in rustic chairs and furniture. Native Americans used Willow twigs for baskets, fish traps and other useful purposes, and today’s willow furniture styles can be traced back to Europe and the influence of settlement into the New World.
There are about 350 species of the genus Salix worldwide and the tree is found primarily in moist soils in cooler zones in the Northern Hemisphere. The leaves are deciduous, often elongate with serrated margins. Willow is a very hearty plant and almost all willows take root readily from cuttings, respond rapidly to pruning, and can be harvested very efficiently.
Wayne Estes works with local Black Willow and Sandbar Willow which he finds along streams, ponds, and right-of-ways. As an arborist with Kentucky Utilities, Wayne harvests most of the wood that he uses from sucker growth caused by mowing along highway right-of-ways. Wayne harvests Willow that he cuts ‘green.’ This means that his finished furniture needs to season and dry thoroughly for about 6 to 8 weeks. When kept out of the elements, indoors or under the cover of a porch, willow furniture lasts.
Wayne looks at historical willow furniture and the work of other contemporary craftsmen to come up with a personal style that retains a traditional look. The main structure of his willow furniture is cut to length and secured with nails. He then weaves the branches in and out of the underlying structural pieces to give an ornate but organic look to his furniture.
A selection of willow furniture by Wayne Estes is regularly available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located just off Interstate 75 at exit 77 (Berea). The Center’s exhibits, shopping, and travel information areas are all open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the café from 8 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from 90 counties across the Commonwealth. For more information call 859-985-5448 or visit the Center’s web site at www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Commerce Cabinet.