Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Marco Facciola and Stephen Washer

May 31, 2017

Ever looked at a pile of discarded wood and wondered at the stories hidden within? Cousins and lifelong tinkerers Marco Facciola and Stephen Washer sure have. Made in Montreal, Canada, their reclaimed wood and rope pieces—three of which have just been added to our assortment—give debris a second life, celebrating the unique colors, shapes, and tales told by pieces salvaged from household renovations and climbing gyms.

Here at UncommonGoods, we’re inspired by Marco and Stephen’s inventive, earth-friendly creations, and we’re thrilled to welcome them to our family of artists. Read on for Marco’s answers to our questions about how the pair got their start, what excites kids about their work, and more.

When did you know you wanted to an artist?

Stephen and I are two cousins who grew up together going camping, skiing, and hiking and building any crazy ideas we came up with. Both of our parents are very hands on, doing many of our house renovations themselves. From a young age, both of us were exposed to power tools and building things ourselves, growing our passion for woodworking and making things by hand. There was no one time that we said to ourselves that we wanted to be artists. We just let our passions guide us, creating things we wanted to make or found interesting.

We started making these wooden silhouette art pieces as a Christmas gift for Stephen’s dad. We went into the workshop trying to think of ideas. We came across a pile of scrap wood from many house renovation projects and we were trying to figure out what we could make with these scraps. We hated to throw out perfectly good wood just because of some paint or stain or because it was a weird shape. We were discussing Stephen’s dad’s passions and favorite animals and that’s when it came to us to cut out a silhouette of his favorite animal and have all the recycled scraps from his house renovations in the background. The first piece was a success!

Soon after, a friend at university started a craft show to sell her jewelry and she asked us to have a table and sell some of our woodworking projects. We said yes and made a handful more of the wooden silhouettes. That is how [our company] Behind the Woods all started, doing bigger and bigger art shows and now doing online sales. Both of us continued our studies at university in environmental studies and mechanical engineering.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

It was only after about a year that we both realized that we were artists, that we were supporting ourselves from our hands-on creativity. For us, the best part of being an artist is having the ability to create all the time. We both love making things and will never stop. Being professional artists just allows us to do it all the time.

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

There really is no typical day in the shop for us. We are always looking for new ideas and creating new things. But in terms of creating a wooden silhouette art piece, it all starts from collecting old painted furniture from around the neighborhood. Then we carry the furniture into the shop and start dismantling, removing all nails or screws and cleaning any dirt off the wood. We then rip the recycled wood on the table saw into thin strips. Once we have a good collection of different colors, stains, and textures of wood, we then make the backings that will hold all the recycled wood. With that all ready to go we then laser cut one of our silhouette designs from thin plywood, give it two coats of white paint, and then start the fun creative process of choosing from our pile of recycled wood. We pick and place each piece of wood or rope to bring each and every silhouette to life. We truly believe that each piece of wood has a huge history behind it, from the blue coffee table you made your first crayon drawing on as a kid, to that hockey stick that scored you the winning goal, to that piece of molding that your parents tracked your height on growing up. Once the piece is all laid out we check it over twice before gluing and nailing everything together. We then start on making the frame, from buying the raw lumber and cutting and profiling the frame to cutting it to length, assembling, and staining it. We then assemble the piece and stamp our names on the back.

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?

Showing our pieces to young kids is great. They love to point out all the animals or sports that they see and know. They are drawn in by all the colors of the background and will always reach out to touch and feel all the wood.

We believe that everything has a story to tell, and we try to save this wood from the landfills and give it a second life. We create these pieces to recycle, as well as to give people a conversation piece for their home, cottage, or office to inspire others to look at their old pieces of furniture differently and just to get people talking and socializing.

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