Each month here in The Summer Local, we are spotlighting a new, yet often-times familiar artist from the Ellicottville area. Subsequently, we’ve been introduced to a variety of mediums - from oil and acrylic paints, to stained glass, to pottery. This month we’re focusing on yet another unique medium, and the artist involved: introducing Emily Area, owner and operator of ‘Something Scrolled Wood Art,’ located just over the hill from Ellicottville, on the border of West Valley and Machias, NY.
Woodworking is something that often times is misunderstood when it comes to realizing just how much work and artistic foresight is invested in it, but I suspect after you get to know Emily within these next few paragraphs, you’ll be inclined to look a little more carefully next time!
TRANSFORMING WOOD INTO ART
Hailing from West Valley, Emily Arena, 33, got a jump-start at exploring all things wood around age 10. Her grandfather was an old time wood-miser, who took pride in passing on his knowledge of all things wood - everything from opening her eyes to worldly species, to exploring the various grains, textures, and densities of domestic species. It wasn’t long after this initial immersion that Emily’s mother introduced her to a scroll saw, a small pedal operated saw (similar to a jig saw) which allows the artist or operator to navigate curves and tricky patterns, yielding a substantial amount of creativity in a comparatively little area of space. When pressed about her other inspirations, Arena also mentioned Judd Brown, an art teacher from West Valley, who urged her to continue to work on her sketching and detailing.
Alas, an artist was well on her way to creating greatness, and if you’ve already skimmed the pictures accompanying this article, you can see she’s a mighty fine one at that!
After browsing her wares on Facebook (facebook.com/SomethingSrolledWoodArt), I was determined to pick her brain. At first glance, one simply wonders, “what can’t she do?!” Everything from ornate frames, customized jigsaw puzzles, wood burning, small furniture (which she creates with her husband, Andrew, owner of Arena Builders), and fixture pieces are just a few of the items you can browse through on her FB page. The wide variety of skills she possesses makes the task of pinpointing her favorite type of work nearly impossible. Instead, I asked Arena what some of her favorite materials were to work with, which again amazed me at the thought put into her processes. Arena cited a few species of wood called Bubinga as one of her favorite mediums. She went on to explain that this wood is special, not only because it hails from the Cameroon, but because it is also rarely used in woodworking. It has a ‘wild’ grain pattern to it, and also carries a deep red and gold color, adding to its impressive appearance. She also expressed a fondness for Waterfall Bubinga, which is another species of the tree that grows in the wet waterfall areas of Africa, giving this already special wood even more character. Lignum Vitae is another one of her favorites, which bears a greenish tint to it. It is the national tree of the Bahamas, and the Jamaican national flower. Domestically, Arena revealed she enjoys working with ‘plain old’ Maples and Spalted Maples, a weathered maple with rich, black accents that appeal to many.
Arena nets a lot of her resources from local farmers and vendors, from which she finds a variety of materials (barnboard, etc.) to re-purpose or reclaim. Her mission statement (and one of the laugh-out-loud moments from this interview) is simple: “I just think everyone should have something rad!” - in reference to people owning her cool pieces of art. (Well said, Emily. Well said.)
GALLERY OPENING SOON
The future is extremely promising for Emily Arena, as she is currently in the process of finishing her workshop in Machias (opening sooner than later!) which will feature a gallery for local artists, as well as her own works … not to mention some farm fresh items like eggs and herbs as well. I greatly encourage you to take the time to check out her aforementioned Facebook page, or simply give Emily and Andy Arena a call at 716-942-6859. The Arenas also have a shop on www.etsy.com
- just search “Arena Builders.”
Simply put: the Arenas love wood, and after viewing some of their pieces, you will too!