Visit With Roberto Lavadie

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"My major influences ore the culture / was born into and my desire to preserve it through building furniture."

Traditional rosettes and hand-forged hinges adorn this dovetailed pine jewelry box.

Roberto Lavadie Woodwork

Lavadie used a pattern knife to outline the curved vines on this chest of drawers before carving out the background with a gouge.

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Roundabout Santa Patterns

Roberto Lavadie, a lifelong resident of Taos, is one of the master New Mexican furniture makers active today. His designs are adapted from traditional forms and motifs of the early Spanish and Pueblo Indian cultures of the region, and his work ranges from small, carefully carved jewelry boxes, to furniture, to the largest altar screen in the U.S.—a four-story-high extravaganza he built for the St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe.

From Signs to Furniture—Descended from a long line of Basque sheepherders who emigrated here from the Pyrenees Mountains in southern France, Lavadie entered woodworking in a roundabout way. He initially worked as a sign painter after his discharge from the Navy. and. although he achieved some distinction for his work, the novelty of painting eventually wore off. So, he began embellishing his signs with woodcarvings. About 15 years ago. he noticed that his carved decorations could also work on a chair back or

Traditional rosettes and hand-forged hinges adorn this dovetailed pine jewelry box.

14-in. tablesaw. jointer, planer, bandsaw. horizontal boring machine—but what sets it apart is his collection of carving chisels, with which he carves his trademark designs. Working with his helper, Leroy Mondragon, he can build a trastero (see main article), ready for delivery, in 40 to 45 man-hours.

Regarding his designs, Lavadie admits that it's very hard to be original anymore. "You might see a particular rosette in almost any application—on a chair back, on a sign, or anywhere. I just try to combine a mirror frame. From then on, This fly-tying bench is an traditional design elements he concentrated more on example of a modern use for in an authentic way that's woodworking, teaching him- a traditional form. aesthetically pleasing. In self the finer points of traditional joinery as he went along.

Today, Lavadie's shop contains all the amenities of a professional workshop—

the end, the whole piece has to balance, both dimensionally and aesthetically.

"My major influences are the culture I was bom into and my desire to preserve it through building furniture." he says. "The woodwork has been a rich and enduring tradition—a tradition I hope will be passed down to future generations." —K.H.

Lavadie used a pattern knife to outline the curved vines on this chest of drawers before carving out the background with a gouge.

PHOTOS CXMntSV Of KOeCKTO tAVACif

Roberto Lavadie Woodworker

NEW MEXICAN "TRASTERO

Divide large fan into 12 equal segments.

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