We all have those family stories. That one thing that happened once upon a time, that some member of your family just will not let go of – in my house, it’s the legend of the table, handmade by my father and then sold by my mother in a garage sale. As all of this went down before my birth, I cannot say for certain what the quality of the table actually was, but if it had been anything like the series of coffee and end tables being produced by Kurtz Millworks then maybe, just maybe, my father has had the right to complain all these years. Though somehow, I doubt it.
On display in their showroom – just hidden from view off Broadway in Orangeville – these creative pieces of art have become a bit of a pet project for owner, Larry Kurtz. A combination of wood, generally reclaimed from various work sites, and epoxy resin, these tables have a look that you just won’t find at your average box store.
Now before you panic, “epoxy” sounds more complicated than it is. It’s simply an adhesive compound that is often used in (surprise!) furniture and flooring finishing. When it comes to Larry’s work, there are two variants he uses: quick drying and slow drying epoxy, and yes, it is exactly as you’re thinking. The quick drying epoxy takes two hours to dry but you can only spread it in ½” layers. On the other hand, the slow drying epoxy gives you up to 2 inches to work with, but takes four days to dry – just a wee bit longer! Each table is a combination of the two, with Larry taking the time to add colour, glitter and other creative items to make sure that every piece has a unique personality to it – and also lots, and lots of epoxy. One in particular, a captivating piece that has combined wood, rocks and blue dyed epoxy to give an enchanting river effect, took 8 layers and 12L of epoxy! Even with the quick drying version, I know that I certainly don’t have the patience for a project of that size. Thankfully, we have Larry to do it for us.
Though it’s not all work – actually it’s far from it. Having been able to sit down and listen to him speak about these pieces I’m pretty confident in saying that this is a labour of love. A lot of passion, creativity and play went into each and every one of these pieces, and although the ability to design these tables from scratch, and play with a new medium is his favourite part about this project it also meant that things didn’t always go quite to plan – though really, what in life ever does?
Directly across from the entrance of the showroom, sits a low square coffee table, framed in reclaimed beech wood. While your eye first goes to the second piece of beech, its jagged live edge fading into a cloud of hazy, semi-opaque epoxy, the longer you look at it, the more details your eye catches, such as my favourite addition, old coins scattered across the bronze and blue base, which itself is a mixture of copper and blue epoxy. When combined together all of these details blend to give the effect of a river, or maybe a wishing well, just starting to freeze in early winter – which was what Larry had envisioned when he had made it. Well, sort of.
Laughing, he was more than willing to confess he hadn’t realized the epoxy was going to become translucent when it dried – he originally thought it was going to be clear! A mishap that any artist working with a new medium can relate to, but how can one be upset when the end result looks so good?
Aside from some floating hockey sticks, and a table in which you’re actually looking at the bottom of the original intended design; none of which affect the beauty of the work; most of the pieces in the Kurtz Millworks showroom have gone off without a hitch; now that he’s got a few projects under his belt, Larry is ready to attack new pieces, and not necessarily just tables. Thanks to its ability to be either glossy or semi-opaque, the epoxy can have a stained glass effect, glowing in direct sunlight, making it a great option for wallart. Before I left, despite warnings of the sawdust, I popped into their workshop to take a look at a countertop they’re working on; once fully completed it too will boast some of that wonderful epoxy shine. A must for any home, I feel!
Honestly, it really is a wonderfully adaptive medium with so much potential. Whether it’s coins, glitter, -trinkets or even photos, the epoxy makes it a great way to put a little personal touch to a unique piece that will set your home apart from the rest.
Just remember, if you do buy a piece from Kurtz Millworks, and you do love it as much as I know you will, it wouldn’t be a good idea to resell it at a garage sale without to consent of every family member! Trust me, I’m just saving you from having to hear about it for years.
Written By: Jillian Kent