Topic: Profiles

Stephen Willette | Artisan Profile

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Woodworker Stephen Willette doesn’t like things going to waste, but there’s another reason why he often builds with reclaimed barn wood. “It has a certain look to it, with weathering deep into the grain,” he explains. “That comes from years and years of storms, harsh sunlight, and freezing winters. You can’t fake it or reproduce it. A lot of people try, but you can’t.”

He appreciates similar qualities in New England itself. “The depth of heritage here is amazing,” he says. “There’s so much history, and the craftspeople do such quality work. They’re really setting the standard.” He grew up here–in New Hampshire, where he still lives–and he also appreciates the access he enjoys to a variety of inspiring landscapes: “Within about an hour of where I live, I can be in the White Mountains, or in Boston, or on the seacoast, or in Vermont.”

Willette has a particular fondness for the Green Mountain State, he says, because of its sprawling rural areas and profusion of farms. “It’s great to see the old farms that are still active,” he says. And when a farm is so old that its buildings are falling down, he often gets a phone call: “People know I love the really old wood, so they’ll say to me, ‘If you don’t come get it, I’m going to burn it.'” By saving the wood and turning it into something beautiful, he adds, “I’m preserving a piece of history.”


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