Thursday, October 27, 2016

Glassell Park couple reshape their passion for woodcraft into a business

Bowls shaped from reclaimed wood/Photo by Martha Benedict

Rebecca and Anthony Gregg/Martha Benedict

Story by Cynthia Greenburg Photos by Martha Benedict

She’s a costume designer for film and TV. He’s a former avocado farmer from Valley Center, north of Escondido. When they met “on the interwebs,” as Rebecca likes to put it, she soon was sharing with Anthony her dream of making her own jewelry line derived from wood turning. He had interest in woodwork as well. In fact during their courtship he decided to make her some furniture for her Glassell Park home. Now married and living together in that very same 1922 craftsman, the Greggs have finally thrown themselves into building a small home business together, one lathe at a time.

Though the jewelry is still of great interest to Rebecca, as is her dream to design a vintage-inspired lingerie line, for now the couple are making their handmade wooden bowls, coffee tables and trestle tables, all sold exclusively through their website.

When you arrive, the first thing you notice are stacks of wood in the form of trunks, stumps and logs, lining the driveway. “I can tell you right now my husband’s favorite part is the chain saw,” Rebecca says.

Each day he could cut into a different type of wood: Walnut, Acacia, Olive, Avocado, Sycamore, Douglas Fir. It’s all hand-picked and it’s all local. One stash, some gorgeous olive wood from an old farm in La Crescenta, was posted on Craig’s List as up-for-grabs. Another haul came from a felled tree, downed in Mount Washington. And some, like the Douglas Fir used in the trestle table, was part of a stack of lumber the Greggs easily theorize was used in one of SoCal’s early buildings. All of their wood is from reclaimed lumber and felled or even rotted trees. The good parts.

As Anthony works in his garage – the roof of which he’ll tell you happens to be Redwood – a transistor radio plays as the lathe spins and the couple’s five dogs and three cats (two of whom are aptly named Woody and Olive) chase away beetles, roll around in wood shavings, and lounge in the Eastside sun. Like many home business owners, their finished products seem to take over all available space. And while they do sometimes consider getting a work studio, the hominess of Anthony’s garage seems to infuse his creations.

As he likes to say, he and his wife share the same “aesthetic,” one that could easily be described as personal, elegant, natural and unique. Unique because their pieces retain and even highlight the “anomalies” they discover inside the wood. From fallen trees it could be strange, natural markings. From reclaimed lumber, evidence of the wood’s original purpose: like the dime-sized holes Anthony’s chosen to leave on the side of a trestle table, physically illustrating the common Knob and Tube Wiring Methods builders used at the turn of the century. A natural circle in a bowl’s base or the partial cut of a wide saw blade on a tabletop – these are the ephemeral imprints that you’ll find in the Gregg’s one-of-a-kind pieces.

Prices vary. The bowls range from about $65 to $750. The tables average at about $600. Some pieces  can go over $1,000. Inventory does change weekly.

Anthony Gregg at the lathe/Martha Benedict

Tools of the trade/Martha Benedict

Wood shop dog/Martha Benedict

Cynthia Greenburg-Dunlop is a TV writer and also has a blog at opinela.blogspot.com. Martha Benedict is a photographer living in the Northeast Los Angeles community of Montecito Heights.

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  1. I love this article and the photos!! It’s so nice to hear about others’ artistic ventures.

  2. What beautiful work. So refreshing to read about locals utilizing resources in fantastic ways. Great piece!

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