It’s not hard to describe Tony. He’s awesome. The man that does all that beautiful woodwork you find in the farm store is also the funniest, kindest, and most generous man you’ll meet. He’s Mandy’s dad.
In our second year of starting the farm, Mandy’s folks moved nearby so they could be near Mandy who left the nest at 18.
In-laws moving down the road is many a spouse’s nightmare, but I loved it. I couldn’t have been blessed with 2 better in-laws. Words can’t express how great they are and how fortunate Mandy and I are for their help, guidance, and good cheer over the last decade.
Tony can do anything. I’ve built and fixed a million things on this farm and anytime I’ve run into a problem, I always knew I could call Tony for advice and he’d point me in the right direction. Despite working nonstop and traveling constantly for his own job, he’d often find a way to be here to install and mud sheetrock, dig a trench for electrical, re-plumb the certified kitchen, install a septic system, help me plaster the studio, install a veggie tank under our box truck, and even install metal roofing 20 feet up on our solar installation in freak 100 degree October weather (at 70 years old).
Pretty much all of that work was hard and in extreme weather, yet through all the aches and pains and gallons of sweat, Tony’s the first one to crack a joke or sing a song and the last one to lose his patience.
To thank him and Linda early on, we bought them a few weekend stays at John C. Campbell folk School. Tony immediately took to the woodturning courses there and was a natural. Mandy and I had a lathe that we no longer used (I used to be a woodworker), so we gifted it to him for his retirement. We had no idea what that would turn into.
If you’ve been in our farm store, you’ve seen all sorts of beautiful wood art, much of it done on a lathe and virtually all of it created from wood harvested from our farm. It’s all the work of Tony. The man loves the process of taking a raw piece of wood and letting it show him what it wants to be as he removes external layers to find the beautiful shapes inside. He is a gifted artist.
Here’s a brief interview with Tony Rovolis conducted by Mandy and I:
M: Dad, what’s new that you’re working on?
T: Charcuterie boards.
M: Do you like the process of making those?
T: Yeah, I really do. It’s something totally different from turning wood, and at the same time, it’s working with the wood and getting designs from cutting around imperfections, resulting in something unique and special. An imperfection in the wood that I cut out, will now be a space for a serving bowl that I’ve turned on the lathe to fit into that hole, so the charcuterie board now has its own perfectly matched and fitted bowl. (We are all very excited about this!)
S:What inspires your creations? Is it all based on what the wood is telling you, or is some of it based on a collaboration with Mandy or Linda?
T: It’s really all of that. It’s taking in what they like, even from Linda’s pottery. I know they like simpler more natural designs. The other thing that I really like is how the wood turns out. The wood, to me, it can just be beautiful even if you don’t make anything out of it, but just make it smooth and shiny. It really is just a pretty thing to me, like that Osage Orange.
S: And you got that from the farm?
T: Yeah, that’s the first time I’d ever seen it. Most of the wood I get comes from y’all’s place.
S: So you’re feeling a sense of enjoyment and flow throughout the whole process, it’s not just about the end goal?
T: Yeah. To me, its about that moreso than the idea of “I’ve gotta make this.” I’ve got a piece in the shop right now that I’m really interested in seeing how it’s gonna turn out, because its filled with knots and it’ll be interesting to see how it’ll turn, if it will turn, because sometimes it just won’t turn. I mean. It blows up.
S: Like life? (laughs)
T: Yeah, it blows up, like after I eat. (more laughs)
S: Anything you’d like to add?
T: I like the fact that if it makes other people happy. That’s what makes it worthwhile. To make something and then move on, is okay, but to put something out there that someone really enjoys, then I think that’s a success.
M: What is your favorite cocktail?
T: I’ve got many (big laughs), but my favorite, after Italy, was the negronis and then…but I guess my all time standby is Deep Eddy vodka with a couple of stuffed olives in it, in my insulated cup with a lot of ice (he has a thing with his insulated cup), and then Four Roses bourbon. Not all at the same time (laughs).
Hopefully this gives you a bit of insight into the person behind all the beautiful wood art at the farm store. He truly is a one of a kind, just like every piece he creates.
Thank you for everything you do Tony! We love you to pieces!
Join us again next week for an Interview with our resident potter Linda!