A LIFETIME PASSION
Gregg Messer (also a guitarist) built his first serious “functional art” piece at the tender age of 16 – an electric guitar fashioned from a re-purposed chunk of old fir.
Says Gregg: “My parents bought me a circular saw, router, and hand tools. I worked for weeks, mostly by hand, cutting, routing, sanding, and finishing to complete the basic body shape, then installed the parts: switches, electronics, pickups, wiring, etc obtained from an old guitar. I had to hand craft everything, even the black faceplates, cutting them by hand from clear plexiglass then painting them black on the back side. There was no Ebay, Amazon, or any aftermarket parts for guitars at that time. Everything had to be made by hand. Later some of my friends wanted one too. I made an ‘F’ guitar for my friend Larry Foote, a ‘G’ for my friend Kevin Gowing. I was hooked. Wow I can craft things from wood that people actually want.”
THE ARTIST AT AGE 16 WITH THE “M” guitar.
(Photos circa 1975, few decades, pounds, and wrinkles ago.)
FAST FORWARD – THE SPARK
Throughout a 40 year career as a software developer Gregg continued making furniture, cabinets, tables, shelves, etc on the side, mostly for family and friends. However in 2015 while strolling through the Des Moines Arts Festival Gregg and his wife Michelle (also an artist/painter) came across a furniture vendor booth displaying, in particular, a side table crafted with a solid walnut top and steel base. Michelle says, very innocently: “You know you could do that.”
Having obtained logs cut and milled from her grandfather’s farm years before and more recently a log from her father’s yard Gregg decided to give this idea a try.
Says Gregg: “I made a hall table more or less in the style of the one I saw at the Des Moines Arts Festival. I wish I could credit the artist but alas can’t remember his name and didn’t think to get his business card at the time. Thanks for the spark whoever you are. Michelle thought it turned out well enough to adorn our hallway.”
THE FIRST ONE . . .
THE NEXT ONES . . .
Carol Wells, a family friend visiting the Messers’ home, saw the hall table and asked Michelle where she got it. She wanted one for her home. The result was the first “sold piece”, in the end she actually bought 2 tables.
Both made for Carol and Nixon Wells of Des Moines. The 2nd photo is a table affectionately referred to, by Carol, as “the ironing board” for obvious reasons.
Gregg now produces numerous furniture pieces in the company’s production shop, one at a time, and still by hand. Many pieces are made for display and sale at the many art shows throughout the US that the company now regularly attends.
Other pieces are custom made and created for customers throughout the US. Says Gregg: “We typically are two month backlog’ed with custom orders. Our process for creating a customer piece is fairly straight forward. We design the piece in close collaboration and communication with the customer. We then provide proportionately-accurate drawings as part of the quotation process and pricing. The customer knows what they are getting and I know what to do. The price is fixed and my work is guaranteed. If the customer doesn’t like it, they don’t pay for it. Period. To date there have been zero returns or refusals of a single delivered piece.”
If you have an idea for a piece and want to discuss. or have any questions, please feel free to contact the artist directly from the Contact form.
THE ARTIST TODAY
L-to-R: Michelle, son Matt, Gregg, daughter Melissa