Mueller to try something new
furniture builder turns to folk art
Helen E. McKinney
CRESTWOOD, Ky, (August 2011) For Crestwood,
Ky., resident Robbie Mueller, a love of crafting furniture slowly evolved
into a passion for creating art. His artwork begins with a vision and
ends with a tangible form made from re-salvaged materials and carved
Originally, Mueller began his artistic career by building farmhouse-style
reproduction pieces. He then started making more accessories to
go along with the furniture, in a folk art style, said Mueller,
by Helen McKinney
artist Robbie Mueller of
Crestwood, Ky., likes to recycle
discarded wood and metals
for his artwork.
Ive always had a fondness for old, worn furniture,
said the Louisville native. A retired middle school science teacher,
Mueller moved to Oldham County in the late 1970s. He decided to further
his hobby of furniture building upon retirement four years ago.
For years, Mueller ran a small landscape business, Lawns and Such. Rather
than expand his landscaping business upon retirement, he thought pursuing
his hobby of furniture building would be more economical. He was able
to use his artistic talents in designing landscapes to a certain extent
but said his present artform of building furniture and folk art is
more enjoyable. I love the creative process.
Mueller can customize a piece of furniture to a customers exact
specifications. Whether the finishing touch involves painting or distressing
the wood, each piece has its own unique look. It causes you to
reminisce or connect with the past, he said. His furniture is
designed so that you want to reach out and touch it.
Many of his customers are referrals that have first viewed his furniture
at regional art shows and then decided they wanted a complimenting piece
of folk art for their home. Mueller attends about seven regional juried
art shows a year including Arts on the Green, Art in the Arbor, and
the Cherokee Triangle Art Fair. A member of the Kentucky Crafters
Guild, Mueller displays his art annually at shows in Bowling Green and
After completing college, a family member mentored Mueller in constructing
functional oak furniture. As his skills increased, he found himself
building and selling primitive farmhouse furniture such as shelves,
tables and hutches. His business became known as Muellers Farmhouse.
Through observance and trial and error, Mueller has taught himself the
necessary skills to transfer his love of crafting furniture into that
of making contemporary folk art pieces. He crafts accent pieces such
as chickens, crows and weathervanes, each with their own unique twist.
He has used leftover wood from furniture he has carved and combined
it with corrugated metal and electrical wire to create a raven landing
on a fence post known as Ravens Roost. Discarded metal
roofing, a rusted steel rod and carved wooden cow became a weathervane
he labeled, Elsies Udder Side. A raccoon carved from
pine with a refrigerator coil brush for a tail became Night Bandit.
Finishing my pieces with a time worn painting technique
is a unifying characteristic of all my work, said Mueller, who
pays a lot of attention to surface detailing. He uses a combination
of acrylic paints, toners, sanding-distressing techniques and a finishing
application of wax or polyurethane. Coming up with a catchy name
for each piece is always a fun way to finish, he said.
Worn out objects from the past that some might consider useless have
become inspiration for Mueller. His goal is to take pieces from previous
eras and bring them to life again with a new purpose and function for
a new owner.
Wes Curtis is a customer of Muellers who purchased what he called
an amazing piece from Mueller. Curtis, who teaches photography
and sculpture at Manual High School in Louisville, said that from the
moment he saw Muellers work he fell in love with the character
Mueller was able to develop.
Curtis has an eye for art, as he has been a juror for the Art in the
Arbor art fair. At this years show, Muellers booth
was the last one, on the last row I walked through, said Curtis.
It was like the grand finale; they had saved the best for last.
Curtis ended up purchasing one of Muellers pieces. Wanting something
special for his wife for their 10-year anniversary, he selected a piece
of folk art depicting a mother opossum with three babies on her back.
When his wife saw it, she commented that it was too bad there were not
four babies, as the couple had four children.
Curtis asked Mueller if he could add an opossum baby, and Mueller was
more than happy to oblige Curtis. I was impressed with his willingness
to make changes to the piece.
Mueller has some of his furniture and artwork on display at the Shelbyville
Antique Market in Shelbyville, Ky., and will participate in the Woodland
Art Fair on Aug. 20-21 in Lexington, Ky.
With his passion for wood and metal, Mueller said he has a high
appreciation for the arts.
To contact Robbie Mueller or to see more
of his artwork, visit: www.FolkArtKentucky.com.
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