modern | driftwood | rustic

Santa Fe Rustic Driftwood Furniture

Jennifer Schwalenberg (and Kane)
Santa Fe, New Mexico


I had my aha moment in May of 1999.  HGTV featured a bed made out of tree branches unlike anything I had ever seen; in contrast to the log cabin style, these were beautifully twisted, barked limbs stretching in every direction: raw, unruly, unrefined.  I felt an instant connection and thought, "I have to have that bed!" The very next moment it hit me. "I have to MAKE that bed!" 

I was living in L.A. at the time so I drove to the beach that weekend, collected as much driftwood as I could find and created a headboard. That was my start.  Later that summer, I spent a week in New York with Daniel Mack, a well-known rustic furniture maker, and found even more inspiration.  A year later, I left L.A. for the blue skies and stunning vistas of my dream town: Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Searching for driftwood along the Rio Grande is an artistic process all its own, exploring through piles of driftwood in my canoe to find just the right pieces that speak to me. It's a thrilling treasure hunt and one of my favorite parts of the process.  I am constantly awed by the distinctive characteristics: beaver-chewed ends, beaver bite marks, and the colors that emerge upon sanding, stunning hues of lilac and green. 

I use traditional mortise and tenon joinery and hand-cut dowels, so most of my work is free from any nails or screws. To further encourage the life and energy of the tree to remain, I do not use any stains or sealants.  The results are raw, organic, functional, modern, rustic pieces of art ~ and truly one-of-a-kind. 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
American Diabetes Association (ADA)