ian, thank you for spending time with us.
thesalting: please describe the general process that goes into your work.
Ian Love: for the sculptural pieces either furniture or art, it usually starts with being inspired by a particular piece of wood that I already have or see. since most of the wood are from trees that were recently cut down, the wood is pretty wet, which means it will start cracking not long after i start the carving process, which is ok because i like working with that natural part of the process. I usually have a vague shape or idea in my head inspired by the particular piece of wood, but leave a lot of room for the intuitive process as it starts happening. it pretty much always starts with breaking down the log and roughing it out with a chainsaw then letting it sit around for anywhere from a few days to a few months to start the moisture release and cracking process. after that, its all carving tools with different attachments, sanders etc.. it’s definitely a long process that really depends on a lot of factors since it’s a organic material.
for commissioned furniture pieces like big tables, desks or sculpture installations, there’s usually some design collaboration with the client. if I don't have the material already for the project, I source it from local mills that I really like.
ts: tell us about the singular tree concept.
il: it started with where i get probably 70% of the trees from a friend of mine, Joe in speonk. he has 2 acres filled with trees from arborists that drop off the felled trees taken in the area. joe has been selling firewood out east for decades. I started going there 4 or 5 years ago and he and I would cut a bunch of pieces from various trees. i started collecting all this great wood from them. since it was all being cut with a chainsaw, the sizes all varied, so i would end up with some pieces big enough to make tables from and some small. It didn’t feel right to throw any of this material away and it all inspired me honestly so without realizing it I started making things from everything that I got regardless of the size. this was great because it pushed me to figure out what’s to do with things i had no idea what to do with. so, with that came the smaller items like vessels, sculpture pieces, lighting, planters etc.. not long after starting that process, I made a commitment to use every part of whatever tree I get. this was not just for the 'non waste aspect' but also, so myself, and people can see the endless amount of things that can be made from the one tree. It’s also cool to have a collection with variety based from one singular tree.
ts: is all of your material and wood sourced locally on long island?
il: the first year or two pretty much 100% yes... now, I’ve been getting more commissions from designers and architects, I occasionally have to get some bigger slabs from a few mills I really like in PA, NJ and brooklyn.
a year ago or so I started sourcing material from lumber + salt on the north fork. they have such a good variety. you never know what your going to find there which is cool. last year I got hired to build a 27 foot sculptural reception desk for a new amazon office in brooklyn and I used a lot of material I found there for the job.
all the carved pieces, which is probably what people buy the most, are from either Joe in speonk or stuff I find on long island myself from other arborists. I also get some great material which I cant get here like black walnut and ash from a guy in NJ that runs a local mill called hoffman millworks.
ts: you mentioned gardening with your daughter led your exploration of working with word? how did that come about? from gardening to creating with wood?
il: I bought a house in hampton bays about 7 or 8 years ago. I grew up in nyc, so when i started coming out to long island more, i started getting an appreciation for the landscaping out here. I guess out of a combination wanting to make my place nice, being bored and getting a passion for it, i started doing all the landscaping myself. over the course of a year or so i made this beautiful garden with probably 100 or so plants, trees, shrubs, fruits... all that i planted , ran the irrigation, lighting myself.
the first things I built were a pergola and some simple planters so i could have more plants around the deck area. they were really simple boxes. the pergola was more complicated but building them was really satisfying and i fell in love with the deign and building aspect of it all.
now a few years later, I can see the connection from starting with the horticulture, landscaping aspect to working with whole trees as a maker. I think falling in love with trees from taking care of them after planting them myself to then using the ones that have been taken down after 100 plus years of living has given me such a deep respect for the complexity and beauty of trees.
ts: how has your business and artistic work path been affected by the pandemic?
il: luckily, I’ve always been very self sufficient and have been collecting material for a few years. it might sound weird, but i actually became more productive during the pandemic. it was almost reassuring for me to know that i didn’t have the same issues a lot of makers were having with the supply chain being gone and lead times being 6 months or a year and pretty much having to shut down. the home furnishing market definitely went up a lot starting with COVID since everyone was staying at home. people wanted nice stuff for there houses. I did see and still see a big increase in people buying things for there home and I’m happy I’ve made what i do very sustainable for myself. It’s really great to not just have a nice inventory of pieces for people to order but also when someone wants a custom piece i can tell them it usually only takes about 4 weeks. when someone buys something from me, the only person making it is me which is a lot of pressure of course but thats part of what people are paying for.
ts: what have you learned about yourself these past 2 years?
il: that its ok for me to have a wide range of feelings and not to judge myself too much for them.
ts: best advice ever received?
il: hmm thats a hard one :) i guess in terms of career stuff it would probably be from my friend Jessica, to not de value the cost of what i do.
il: on a personal and creative level, my daughter for sure. she’s only 16 but is such a smart, creative compassionate kid. I’m constantly learning how to be a better person from being around her as well as parenting her.
ts: describe yourself in 3 words.
il: complicated, creative, passionate.
il: the big lebowski, brewsters millions (haha), cant think of a third.
il: I think either cyndi lauper or iron maiden maybe?
ts: what do you do in your every day life to erase hate?
il: Ive been meditating for about 6 years everyday for 20 minutes twice a day. I think it consciously and unconsciously clears out whatever nonsense I have going around in my head, including any kind of hate which can also be self hate as well. it doesn’t “fix” all my thinking of course, but it definitely helps.