Woodmansee Woodwrights prides itself on outstanding design and craftsmanship in woodworking capabilities. What really sets them apart is their artistic offerings, both in their woodworking projects and accessory stand-alone artwork.
Featuring artwork from a range of artistic family members, the small gallery/farm shop displays a limited sampling of pen and ink drawings, paintings, landscape photography, and fiber art to go along with their cabinetry and furniture. Woodmansee sometimes combines elements of this artwork directly into their woodwork to bring their customers a unique combination of functionality and art, seldom seen in today’s world of big box store mass-produced cabinetry and furniture.
Their custom furniture is a blend of rustic and simple Shaker styles that may mix live edged slabs with reclaimed woods, stone, and original artwork. Rather than the “traditional” rustic approach of twig and branch detailing, the business will sometimes utilize fine pen and ink work to literally “wrap” a piece in vines or branches. Adirondack scenes and wildlife can spring out of panels and doors or adorn tabletops.
The creative possibilities are endless, and they are always experimenting with new design ideas, including input from customers.
Life in the Finger Lakes recently caught up with the owner, John Bishop.
LIFL: How did you get started in cabinet-making?
John Bishop: I really started during my high school years in the mid-seventies. My dad was handy, and I helped him with various projects around the house. I was also involved in the carpentry program at BOCES. I began to build custom furniture as soon as I finished high school, along with working on custom homes and cabinets.
Did you have any other careers besides cabinet making?
At one point my family had a business that involved taking folks out on guided tours on llamas. The area around Tully is beautiful and there are lots of trails and vistas to see.
Where is the business located?
We are in Tully, New York, and that’s where our home is as well. We have deep roots here. My wife’s side of the family goes back eight generations, almost to the first settlers in this area. We live in a secluded area and our driveway is a quarter mile long, which isn’t always conducive for customers to stop by. We do encourage interested folks to visit our website for lots of samples.
Where do you get your materials?
We do try to locally source our materials. In fact, much of the wood is from our land and it includes maple, cherry, and butternut. Our sawmill enables us to create lumber for our cabinets, and we have a 3,000 square foot warehouse to store it all. We also like to buy walnut, oak, basswood, and hickory from other local sources.
The cabinetry is unique, especially with the added artwork accents. What led you to create furniture in this way?
When I was in high school, my art teacher challenged us to use different mediums for art. So I found some old shingles and created pen and ink drawings on them. My son Josh was inspired by my old drawings and started to create sketches that would span across cabinet doors, to bring the spirit of the outdoors onto the furniture itself. The process is to first build the cabinet doors, then the drawing is done on the raw wood in the studio. After that a spray finish is applied so that it’s durable.
How many different people contribute to the final product? What are their specialties?
I do most of the woodworking and carpentry myself. My sons contribute with woodworking and art. Josh does pen and ink drawings, and my other son Jeremy works with cut stone. My wife helps in various areas, from inspiration to help in moving the projects.
Do you have any favorite designs that you like to incorporate into your products?
Kitchen cabinets make up the majority of what we do. We also make live edge tables, entertainment centers, bathroom vanities, and custom beds. A recent product that we’re really excited about is a special laser printer that will reproduce Josh’s art on other furniture. It is best suited for pen and ink style of art. We also use it to reproduce old maps on wood.
To learn more about Woodmansee Woodwrights, visit woodmanseewoodwrights.com or call 315-460-0370.