Courtesy of The Woodwork.
Andy and Julie Taylor and the bar they built for Damn the Weather.

Damn the Weather features interior and custom furnishings by The Woodwork

by Shin Yu Pai

When mixologist and former Fleet Foxes bassist Bryn Lumsden decided to open his own bar in Seattle, he turned to Ballard artists Andy and Julie Taylor of The Woodwork to build the interior. “Andy and Julie had a better idea of what our space needed than I ever did,” says Lumsden.

“I couldn’t begin to describe it, or what it does for our room, our guest, our staff, and our business. We did not work with a more professional contractor at any point during our buildout.”

Inspired by Shaker-style furniture, the Taylors create elegant unadorned designs featuring clean and simple lines. For Damn the Weather, the couple created a 25-foot bar by blocking together hundreds of pieces of quartersawn white oak, a distinctive cut of wood that highlights the ray cells of the tree to create flame-like ribbons which shimmer across the surface.

To add an antique quality to the bar top, the Taylors finished the wood through a process that required them to build an airtight tent and don gas masks before exposing the oak to ammonia fumes. The results are a coppery finish that evokes the rich history and textures of Damn the Weather’s Pioneer Square space.

In total, the couple devoted nearly 900 hours to building the bar top over a 3-month period. When the concept of Damn the Weather expanded to include a restaurant, the Taylors created upholstery for the bar front, standing-area surfaces, and custom table tops to complete the interior, with salvaged wood milled by Julie’s father, a Woodinville builder.

In honor of the Taylors, the Damn the Weather menu features a special drink in homage to the artists. “Their commitment was an inspiration to our project and me personally,” says Lumsden, who created “The Woodwork” – a craft cocktail made of whiskey, a spirit traditionally aged in oak barrels.

In 1996, Andy moved from Arizona to Seattle with friends and eventually enrolled in the two-year Cabinetmaking and Architectural Woodworking Program at Seattle Central Community College, where he studied with instructor John Harvey.

Julie grew up in Woodinville around her father’s construction business and also completed the SCCC woodworking program, mentoring under the same teachers as Andy. “Julie had the keen ability to see the ‘good’ in making an error which led to problem solving and critical thinking, both important attributes to have as a professional woodworker,” says Mr. Harvey.

The couple met through friends and married in 2006. In 2011, the Taylors established The Woodwork, drawing inspiration from Sam Maloof, a renowned contemporary furniture craftsman who described himself simply as a “woodworker.” As part of their shared vision, Andy and Julie strive to create objects that are reflective, meaningful, and enduring.

The Woodwork creations integrate classic silhouettes with carefully designed details – a seven-drawer dresser features dovetail joinery and handmade pulls, along with modern blocky veneers. The couple often acquires hardwoods that they keep for years in their inventory before finding the right project for the material. A new tabletop lamp design features blonde-colored aspen, a material known for its reflectivity and transparency.
Their approachability and commitment to creating beautiful objects imbued with personal meaning once led the pair to working with an unusual client who engaged the pair’s expertise to build a handmade casket. Intended for the client’s father who was in hospice, the casket became a collaborative learning project. Andy taught his client woodworking, engaging him in a creative process that empowered him with the tools to help prepare for his parent’s transition. The client described the process of making the casket as “giving his father a last set of new clothes.”

The Taylors are currently working on designing a complete line of residential furniture, building upon existing prototypes for side tables, dining sets, a chest of drawers, and a bed. Other pieces in design, include a floor lamp, bookshelf, interior lounge chair, and sofa. “The pieces in this line will be tied together by shared details, lines, and color palette.”

The artists work with clients to customize designs to dimensions and woods that complement individual preferences. “It has been a very cool thing to be able to send individual clients ‘process shots’ of their furniture being built. It’s one more way to add meaningfulness to the objects they have chosen to surround themselves with.”

Both Andy and Julie work part-time jobs to supplement the income from their woodworking business. Julie works as a barista at Walter’s, which has exhibited photographs of The Woodwork’s designs. Andy currently fabricates furniture for another designer, though he hopes to transition towards working full-time on projects for The Woodwork.

In the future, Julie and Andy hope to show their work in a gallery setting to highlight their collection of furniture designs. They are also interested in exhibiting objects, wall art, and some “weirder things.” The Taylors are ambitious to outgrow their current studio and establish an independent woodworking cooperative that would allow Andy to pursue additional teaching opportunities.

For more information on The Woodwork, visit http://thewoodwork.net/.

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