With His Own Hands
Forget flimsy, particleboard, mass-produced "home furnishings." This craftsman's hand-made pieces are for keeps.
Hunter Webb likes surprises. He builds cabinets, drawers, intricate compartments that open up to delight the viewer. His own newly built timber-frame house in Goochland has a secret passage — a cabinet that pushes in to reveal a hidden room. (Which conceals, alas, no ancient tomes or dusty maps. Only the water heater.)
Webb, 40, surprised himself by becoming a furniture maker. He was studying business at VCU when he took a job building laminate countertops and realized woodworking was what he wanted to do. A Wendell Castle exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art showed him what he aspired to be. So he started making furniture.
He repeats his father’s advice on what makes a piece timeless: “Good design. Good craftsmanship. Good materials.” That last is a specialty of his. With a sawmill on site, “we’re the only people that I know of that can saw a tree down in your front yard… dry it in a kiln and build something out of it.”
Webb’s work is characterized by curves, crisp contrasts and impeccably crafted compartments. He also has created distinctive front doors, whimsical people-clocks and an ark for the Torah at Congregation Or Atid. Currently, he’s working on a 150-box cigar humidor and other pieces for an Art Deco apartment in New York. The challenge: the elevator to the eighth-floor apartment is only 5 feet by 6 feet, forcing him to break each piece into smaller bits for on-site assembly.
Sometimes clients come to him with specific blueprints; other times they want him to design a piece. “They know what they want is something I’ve made,” Webb says with a touch of awe. “That’s what inspires me.”
For more info on Webb’s work, visit "http://www.clearfieldcompany.net/gallery1.htm"clearfieldcompany.net.