Artists in Their Own Words: Alex Geriner, Cody Mowrer, and Ryan Tapscott
Left to right: Cody Mowrer, Ryan Tapscott, and Alex Geriner
(Photo: Kelley Crawford)
Who: Alex Geriner, Cody Mowrer, and Ryan Tapscott
What: Furniture Makers
Where: Uptown (Alex), LGD (Cody), Pass Christian (Ryan)
Artists’ Chosen Location for Interview: Doorman Designs Studio (401 Short Street)
Q: What kind of music do you hate to listen to on ear buds?
AG: Classical. Usually if I’m listening to music on ear buds I’m working, so I want something that’s going to keep me awake. Classical music just makes me want to go home.
RT: I’d listen to Alkaline Trio.
CM: I wouldn’t listen to death metal. The noise of the saws is enough for me. When I do listen to music, it’s bluegrass.
AG: I started listening to Kreayshawn this last weekend. I was listening to her one Saturday, and I was just bouncing around while I was working. I’ll listen to Florence and the Machine or sometimes I like country music. Of course, we’re always wearing our ear protection when we listen.
RT: And our safety glasses.
CM: You can sneak the ear buds under the ear protection, so it’s doable.
AG: All the safety gear. All the time. And not everything we do is with saws. After we’ve built a piece, it has around a day and a half of painting, varnishing, or some kind of finishing work to be done. Now I’m really thinking I need to get a radio for this place.
Q: What’s one of your favorite textures to run your hands over?
CM: Sand on the beach. Once the water runs over it.
RT: I was thinking the same thing. It’s the whole surrounding for me. I live near the beach, so I get to go there whenever I want.
AG: For me, any of this old wood. I love to feel the dings and the ridges and where the wood has splintered or where the old saw marks are from. Texture is a huge thing to me.
Q: What’s an object you’d love to hunt and find for one of your pieces?
RT: I’d want to find old airplane propellers. I’d like to use them for table bases. You’d have to search for airplane graveyards. They definitely have those, but it’s just a matter of finding them without having to drive halfway across the country.
You’d be able to spot them pretty easily, though, since they’re huge.
CM: I’d love to find some great driftwood. You don’t know where it comes from, what it used to be, and it just kind of shows up.
AG: Probably some sort of cypress. Like a sinker cypress. All this wood we have in this area of the shop is drug out of Lake Pontchartrain. When New Orleans was being built and the city was growing, they were cutting down so many trees here that they were running out of trees to build houses with.
They started going to the North Shore and cutting down the pine and cypress trees there. They’d wrap the logs in chains and drag them across the lake. Along the way, there were a lot of pieces that came loose and sunk to the bottom, so Lake Pontchartrain is littered with wood that’s been there for up to 200 years. It doesn’t rot, so it’s preserved.
CM: There’s all different kinds of cypress. Like this one. [Unveils a dining room table make of pecky cypress.]
AG: It’s a real hide-and-seek, go out and find experience. It’s like deer in the woods. You know that it’s there, and you just have to find them.
CM: But, we ourselves don’t dive down for it.
AG: No way. I’m too scared to go down there. There was a shark attack, there’s brain eating amoebas, and I have a total fear of alligators. I mean, you can’t even see your hand in front of your face when you’re under that water. No way I’m going under there.
Q: What’s an English phrase you’d like to learn in another language?
RT: I have so many that I say.
CM: Measure twice, cut once. I'd want to learn that in Vietnamese.
AG: I was going to choose Vietnamese as well.
CM: In our old place we shared a space with a Vietnamese woman who worked with draperies. She had some great phrases for us.
[Pause in interview to share phrases not able to be printed.]
AG: So the language I’d choose would definitely be Vietnamese, and the phrase would be quietly swimming upstream. I’ve been on this journey of what does life mean, what’s it supposed to be like, am I doing the right thing, how in the world did I end up doing this, and so many other questions. I wasn’t this person two years ago, so I’ve always felt that I’ve been quietly swimming upstream.
RT: When life gives you lemons, make chocolate milk. I read that off a Nesquik bottle one time. It was pretty mind blowing when I saw it, but this was of course ten or twelve years ago—not yesterday or anything. And I’d want to learn that phrase with an Australian accent. That’s not totally a different language, but I like that accent.
Q: Is there something that when you forget it you’re too embarrassed to ask to borrow?
AG: I’m an only child [laughing], so I have no problem asking for something and expecting to get it.
CM: A toothbrush.
AG: I always forget a toothbrush. I just borrow one and run it under hot water. No one would ever notice.
CM: I’m learning so much from this interview.
AG: I mean, I don’t mind sharing.
RT: I don’t like to borrow anything. I stress out the whole time if I’m borrowing something. My truck tore up a couple of weeks ago, and I had to borrow my dad’s. I was losing sleep over it. Worrying about if I was going to get hit or somehow damage it.
Q: When do you know that something is finished?
AG: It sounds cheesy, but the piece tells you when it’s finished. It tells you when the consistency and the color is right. I think less is more. Some wood is relatively soft, so if you keep sanding on it, you’ll lose its color. You’ll miss the individual divots. With practice you know the treatment a material needs and can take.
CM: It’s true. When it looks good you have to know when to leave it alone.
AG: It’s definitely important to know what finished look you’re going for. You have to have an end goal.
RT: I agree, you want to know what you’re trying to get to. That’s always important.
Alex Geriner, Cody Mowrer, and Ryan Tapscott are the three-man operation that make up Doorman Designs. Doorman Designs will be having an open house on November 6th at their workshop (401 Short Street) starting at 6:30 PM. You can also find out more about Doorman Designs on Facebook and Instagram.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at [email protected].