It’s no secret that New Jersey is home to countless artists. Many of these creators are inspired by a passion for art that drives them to create; no matter if it’s in the kitchen, a pottery studio, or even their garage. Our series, I heART New Jersey, is dedicated to celebrating these amazing artists. This month, we’re featuring some of the Garden State’s best woodwork artists. Woodwork artists create everything from functional décor to driftwood art.
These creators perfect their craft and sell their wares out of their own boutiques; often through the power of the internet or even in local markets. Here are just a few of our favorite local artisans using the natural elements of wood. (If you missed last month’s I heART New Jersey, click here to see more great artists.)
Shaun Webber of Nodoka Woodcrafts
Whether you’re a foodie or not, Nodoka Woodcrafts will make you want to break out Grandma’s recipes. All it takes is one look at the hand carved spoons and utensils. The secret behind these beautiful designs? Former tattoo artist Shaun Webber crafts them from locally grown (and oftentimes salvaged) wood.
After retiring from his tattoo life to make something “that lasts,” Webber began to tinker with wood; he was asked by a friend to create something for his local farmer’s market (specifically, something food-related). He got his hands on a spoon book, made a dozen spoons, and sold out his first time around. Since then, he’s been growing his repertoire as well as his loyal following; many of whom often express how his pieces remind them of what they had in their home growing up.
In a world of disposable everything, Webber focuses on making something that will last well beyond his time woodworking. Even though the utensils he creates are small, the stories behind each are quite large. In order to turn them into the perfect utensils, Webber sculpts each curve using only hand tools. But that’s just the beginning; the story continues when you pick it up and bring it into your kitchen to “determine its destiny.”
Nodoka Woodcrafts can be found online and at markets along the Jersey Shore.
Jeanette Wehner of Mermaids Masterpiece
Do you ever pick up drift wood during a trip to the beach and wonder to yourself; can I make something with this? For Jeanette Wehner, she turned her collection into Mermaids Masterpiece. Now, she creates driftwood art inspired by her Jersey Shore lifestyle.
The Pt. Pleasant resident turns her daily walks on the beach into a chance to express her artistic qualities. Creations range from painted sea turtles to seahorses, crabs, wind chimes, pineapples and countless other shore-inspired pieces. But her work is different from other driftwood pieces you may find in large stores for two reasons; Wehner uses absolutely no nails and creates all her own pieces. This includes a 7’x6′ crab that’s currently displayed in the lobby of Jenkinson’s Aquarium.
Wehner shared her first piece of driftwood art with family and friends four years ago. Today, the 5th grade teacher inspires others to rethink their own collections and maybe make something of it!
Mermaids Masterpiece items are available online and at markets along the Jersey Shore.
Douglas J. Rella of Rella Woodworks
When I first came across Doug Rella, it was at a NJ farmer’s market. In between balancing my overflowing bags of fresh produce and trying to keep my son occupied, I spotted a table. It was full of wooden boards in every shape and size. What intrigued me even more than the richness of the wood was the shape of the boards themselves. Instead of your typical flattened piece of wood, each piece had retained a slightly curved shape; beyond that, every board was different in its own way, whether it be the shape, size, grain or texture.
Rella, the owner of Rella Woodworks, crafts heirloom woodwork using salvaged trees from various sources. Those sources can range from a neighbor cutting down trees to downed trees from storms including Superstorm Sandy. Rella collects them all and creates unique and sustainable pieces of woodwork, from tables and cutting boards to surfboard fins.
Rella Woodworks items are available via special order through the official website.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Shaun Webber / Nodoka Woodcrafts
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
Shaun Webber / Nodoka Woodcrafts
Jeanette Wehner / Mermaids Masterpiece
Douglas J. Rella / Rella Woodworks