As a very young boy, Roger Ellison began working with wood, turning scraps of building lumber into toys with a simple saw, mallet, chisel and plane. Formal training began in junior high and continued through high school under the tutelage of two inspirational shop teachers – Clifton Moss and Joe Neel - who focused on fundamentals, emphasized the beauty and character of wood, and encouraged creativity. Self-study and practical application have since been the most effective tutors, but now there is a yearning to learn under the masters. A design seminar by Graham Blackburn has provided inspiration, and a foundational course led by Paul Sellers has renewed interest in traditional hand skills.
Though his design and work is not confined to any particular style, the Arts and Crafts traditions – Craftsman, Mission, Greene and Greene, Stickley and others – as well those of the Shakers are influential in Roger’s work. One might even see a Beidermeir influence in one particularly unique hope chest. In almost everything he does, there is an early Texas touch.
Roger works with a variety of woods, but prefers native Texas woods and those hardwoods which are highly figured. Mesquite, the most beautiful of these because of its rich and varied coloration, is his favorite. It is hard and very stable, with grain ranging from straight to exotic, and often marked by exquisite swirls and character lines. An excellent choice for heirloom pieces, it is especially expressive of Texas traditions.
Especially in the mesquite chosen for his work, Roger sees a spiritual metaphor - the enormous variety, experiences and beauty of people and their circumstances. Some boards appear perfect, though they seldom are. Others clearly show the scars of life. Each one, however, is beautiful in the eyes of its Maker, and perfected by One who knows the beauty behind the flaws. Drawn together and held by His love, boards are united to create furniture which exceeds in beauty that of any of single board. Roger’s role is not to create beauty, but to help reveal that already within.
Gracing the entrance to his shop is a prayer and blessing:
Almighty and everlasting God, grant to this place the grace of your presence that you may be known to be the inhabitant of this shop, and the Creator of all beauty.