Our Interview with Galen Shelly of Misty Meadows CabineTree
We get questions all the time about our beautiful cabinets and millwork, so we decided to sit down with Galen Shelly of Misty Meadows CabineTree and hear from the expert himself.
When did you become interested in wood work and design?
My fascination with architectural woodworking and design budded at an early age, as if it were a calling. I’ve known my whole life that this craft was in my DNA. Before reaching an age where I could be exposed to focused instruction at a local industrial arts program, I fed my thirst for all things joinery with ANY periodical or book I could borrow or collect. This urge has led to an extensive collection of articles/reference materials and illustrated guides to joinery over the years. I would visit museums, admiring pieces, disassembling them in my mind, then reassembling over and over again…countless times. “Practice makes perfect” became the mantra of my daily building. I used to dream of one day cutting the tree, milling the lumber, and turning it into priceless heirlooms.
Explain to us where and when you received your training.
Once exposed to Littlestown School District’s industrial arts program, it became abundantly clear that my passion coincided with my natural talent. Studying under the capable guidance of James Dehoff and Richard Rucker, they advanced my pursuit of woodworking. I student- taught anyone who had questions or would listen in those classes! I received numerous awards for furniture of my own design built from wood gathered from the haymow of a neighboring farmer. I didn’t realize at the time, but my path exposed me to graphic arts and commercial design as I would collaborate and ultimately produce complete set designs for our local school musical productions.
How did MistyMeadows CabineTree come to life?
Well, I continued honing my skills apprenticing at a few local cabinet shops, but felt that I needed my own creative outlet. From 1990-1999 I attended the Harrisburg Builders show, taking in the latest designs offered there each spring. In January 2000, Misty Meadows CabineTree, Inc. was born right on the spot where I had so proudly created my very first projects 15 years earlier.
Can you tell us about some of your work experiences?
I’ve been proud to be a part of many local new construction/remodels, and even some commercial projects in this area, but also going as far as Cape May to South Carolina and even to Minnesota. Some of my recognizable installations include the reception and bar at the Wyndham Hotel, Gettysburg, The box office at Gateway Theater and the bar at what was The Country Club, but is now Sydney’s Bar and Restaurant.
What do you most enjoy building?
Although I have a deep appreciation for fine pieces, I’ve been humbled to build mahogany doors for cathedrals, yet approach a child’s toy chest with the same enthusiasm and commitment to the craft! I love when my clients “feel” something in the presence of something I’ve built.
James Krenov stated that “Understanding eyes see the maker’s fingerprints”. Many shops have sought the speed of computer-aided design and production, and have filled their shops with less experienced “assemblers”, putting boxes together from stacks of pre-cut machine-made parts. At a glance, it’s easy to tell if a cabinet or piece of furniture lacks personality and the touch of a master craftsman.
How is your approach different from machine-made, mass-produced pieces?
I veered away from assembly line production to pursue an introspective, well- reasoned approach to design and fabrication. The smaller shop setting can match the skill required of the project to the builder, with a “hands on” approach to creation. Every line, every edge, every detail must be addressed; having the experience to handle each perfectly is the result of years of projects. As I build each piece I literally explore the symbiosis between wood grain and its characteristics, and how I can enhance it to become an heirloom.
What are you most proud of?
While I am immeasurably proud of my over three decades of design and building, my proudest accomplishment is guiding my two young sons–fine young men–along the path of life. My home-based shop has afforded me wonderful opportunities to influence their lives in ways one cannot imagine.
With regard to my business, I’m proud that no two projects look alike, as each space must have its own solution and understanding. Experience and wisdom uniquely qualify me to produce pieces that fit each distinct project. In a world focused more and more on mass-produced, cheaply made products–low quality casework, assembled from countless stacks of impersonally cut parts– it has become my daily goal to find projects that value real craftsmanship. If this is you, I’d love nothing more than to bring my skills to your project and create that one-of-a kind piece or collection for you! I am most satisfied when I have created a piece that causes a “feeling”…those are the “fingerprints” I leave behind that can be appreciated for generations!
“The Reverence that the object MAKER has for the materials, for the shape, and for the miracle of his skill, transcends to God, the MASTER CRAFTSMAN, the Creator of ALL things, who uses us, our hands, as HIS tools to make these things beautiful.” Sam Maloof
Contact Galen Shelly of Misty Meadows Cabinetree
Misty Meadows Cabinetree is located at 487 California Road Littlestown, PA 17340. To work with Galen, call (717) 752-0974 or email him at email@example.com