Artisan Salvages Hardwood to Create One-of-a-Kind Household Items
Whether using exotic hardwoods from Thailand or Africa, or a humble pallet skid from industrial use, no good wood goes without repurposing under the careful eyes of Ira Barsky. Pictured above, a wall-mounted candle holder by Ira. Scroll down to see more of his artistry.
Wood artisan, Ira Barsky, restores new life to discarded hardwood through salvaging and repurposing. Using weathered barnwood or old whiskey and wine barrels, he brings new life to something that might otherwise be fodder for a landfill.
“When I was in junior high, I took woodshop classes and it planted a seed for me,” Ira recalls. “I’ve always loved doing that kind of work.”
As Ira made gifts for family and friends, they said to him, “You know, you could sell this stuff.”
Now in business, his entire family helps with booth set-up, sales and shipping. And, prior to that, Ira sifts carefully through art fair and festival opportunities to select ones that are the best fit for their success.
His artistic inspiration springs to life as he sets to work transitioning the raw material into something unique and useful.
He makes everything from serving trays and trivets to cutting boards, cheese slicers, bottle openers, tealight holders, vases, and other small household items. His prices range from $25 to $400.
For commissioned pieces, customers often give him the wood to use and say, “surprise me” with whatever finished result he can envision. The tools he uses include planers, joiners, sanders, drill press – basic woodshop tools, he explains, that he has mastered over the years.
Favorite hardwoods to use include the Wenge tree from central Africa, Zebra wood from west Africa, and Padauk from Thailand. Everything he makes is one-of-a-kind – no two are ever alike he explains because all wood weathers differently and will be infused with other organic markings during its growth.
“I find great satisfaction in learning how customers will be using my work – as a birthday gift, wedding gift or maybe someplace special in their own homes. It’s fun to know that final destination.”
Ira's barnwood serving tray.
Ira's wall-mounted bottle opener includes the barrel band and a magnet to catch the cap.
Ira's Cheese Slicer
Whiskey barrel stave clock by Ira.
Ira poses with merchandise behind him at one of his recent outdoor fairs.