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In for the long haul, Jaeger...

WALTER O. JAEGER
I chose a career as a cabinetmaker because it offered expression for the passion that motivates my creativity. I often think of Charles. R. Mackintosh who said, "Art is the flower. Life is the green leaf. Let every artist strive to make his flower a beautiful thing… something that will convince the world that there may be, there are, things more precious – more beautiful - more lasting - than life itself."

Born in Maine in 1949, I moved to Charlottesville, Virginia when I was sixteen. I received a B.S. degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 1972. Shortly thereafter, I established the cabinetmaking shop that would grow to become Jaeger & Ernst, cabinetmakers.

I enjoy participating in the Virginia and national craft communities. I believe an awareness of the work of other artisans enhances my design sensibilities, reinforces the value inherent in the work of the hand, and provides exceptional resources for our clients.

The history of craft, particularly its rebirth following the industrial revolution, has long held my interest. The Arts and Crafts Movement is a tale of craft’s re-emergence and flowering. I am fascinated by how the tenets of the Arts and Crafts Movement influenced artisans and our larger culture. My convictions that design and craft are valuable contributors to our culture and economy stem from my exploration of this subject.

Rooms are affected by material, color, texture, spatial arrangement, and complements of like and dissimilar elements. The character we attribute to rooms, such as expansive, intimate, warm, comfortable, rich, formal or soft, for me, are the emotional considerations I seek to affect as a designer/cabinetmaker. I am tremendously gratified by a client’s elation over work we created for their home.

A flow of inspiring emotion is the spirit I strive to communicate within the art of the cabinetmaker. To create those objects and spaces which evoke this movement necessitates that design, craftsmanship and wood be combined and offered as an extraordinary service. Because we provide this extraordinary service, I continue to be joyful with my choice of a career as cabinetmaker.
 

& Ernst, Inc.

R. CRAIG ERNST
Born in Virginia, in 1950, I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. After living in Indiana and Florida, I moved to New England, where I graduated PBK form Amherst College. My degree is in English, a predominant academic background of woodworkers, nationwide. Faced with a choice between continuing school, or accepting my partner’s invitation to own half of a small, custom woodworking shop, I exemplified the observation that education alone cannot instill wisdom, by choosing a career making noise and sawdust. Many years later, I still believe I made the right choice.

I have often thought that cabinetmaking attracts particular types of people. If one is drawn to the idea of “getting the thing right,” cabinetmaking offers an opportunity to indulge. Craft is an alluring vocation, in part because the objects created leave clear markers over the ground one has covered… not just, “I was here,” but clearly, “I cared about getting it right while I was here.” I know this focus distinguishes the people in our shop from so many others.

I believe that the quality of a piece of furniture, or of any endeavor, directly reflects the quality of self one is willing to apply to the effort. The rooms of cabinetry and the furniture we design and build are simply artifacts of the makers’ lives… of the quality of the time we were willing to invest. When the work shines, it is because the makers were willing to give generously of themselves.

In our small business it is easy to see how much pleasure people take from the work we create… “Oh, you’re the guys who build all that beautiful cabinetry and furniture.” What we create is tangible, but actually, it is the service we provide that makes all of that beautiful work happen. Until a client has worked with us, it is impossible for them to imagine the effort we spend listening, brainstorming, sketching, and drafting the designs we offer. By the time we arrive at a great design, we’ve already discarded better ideas than most shops would have come up with.

I believe that the quality of the lives we share can be affected in important ways by the care we take in creating the spaces where we live. I enjoy working for, and with, people who share that notion. When a client comes to me, I am trying hard to understand just what kind of furniture or cabinetry is going to draw out that particular little smile… every time they look around their finished room.

When Marshal McLuhan wrote, “The medium is the message,” he could well have been referring to the cabinetmaker’s art… functional sculpture. Our medium is wood. The message is, “This material is beautiful. We love creating with it. You’ll love living with it”

Telling people about what we do is not easy. They tend to romanticize cabinetmaking when actually it is a lot of hard work, and a tough way to make a living. For the most part, anyone who wants to know about us need only take a close look at our work. It says, pretty clearly, what we are up to.

 

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