Doug Hunderman is much happier in the solitude of his Durango Hills workshop than as the face of the 2011 Durango Home & Ranch Show, but hell make the best of it.
Its strange walking around town and seeing my work on all those posters, said Hunderman, who may be spending more time in his shop after this weekends event.
Each of Hundermans hand-crafted hardwood chairs, especially the rockers, is a work of art. And each takes about a month to make, depending on Hundermans schedule. So, hes approaching this weekends show with a mix of anticipation and trepidation. He has four chairs ready to display at the show, but thats an anomaly.
People ask me What do you have in stock? and I always answer Nothing, said Hunderman, who builds the chairs on commission only.
He keeps one chair on display at the Azul gallery on Main Avenue, but its not for sale; if it were, it would be another month before one could take its place. As for the chair thats become eponymous for Hunderman since the Home & Ranch Show poster came out its a style he calls the Mountain Rocker that one is in the home of a prominent Albuquerque attorney.
At an average cost of about $5,000 for each chair, mass production is not the way at Hundermans mountain hideaway. He measures each customer (or requests measurements from far-off buyers) and builds the chairs to exact specifications.
He travels to Albuquerque or to Collectors Specialty Woods in Gardner for his selections of oak, cherry, maple, mahogany and other hardwoods. A typical chair has about $1,000 worth of lumber, hundreds of miles and travel and almost as many hours invested in it. Thats why despite the price, Hundermans not getting rich off of his woodworking, which includes more than chairs hes recently expanded into custom staircases, balustrades and other furniture.
If you can build a rocking chair you can build anything, he said, singling rockers out as the most challenging item in his repertoire.
Its hard to build a chair because we come in so many different sizes and put so much stress on them. But you wont break one of mine.
Hunderman may spend significant time with his tools and wood, but far from being a recluse relegated to long hours in the shop, hes surprisingly personable and even gregarious. But dig deeper and that shouldnt be a surprise, either.
Hunderman is a former pastor he headed the Sunrise Community Church for his first five years in Durango in the late 90s and is the sole proprietor of Dawn Treader Counseling, providing marriage and family counseling and professional development coaching.
Im still a people person, Hunderman said. Thats why whenever I can, I deliver my chairs myself. If I put a month into a chair theres a lot of my heart in it, and I like to see where they put it. And I get a lot of satisfaction when a customer sits in a chair for the first time and it fits perfectly.
The 2011 Durango Home & Ranch Show is sponsored by The Durango Herald.