Into the woods and made in the South

In his custom designs, Blairsville artist Tom Chambers often uses bright colors and Asian Willow or Japanese Mulberry branches. Contributed by Chris Hefferen/

In his custom designs, Blairsville artist Tom Chambers often uses bright colors and Asian Willow or Japanese Mulberry branches. Contributed by Chris Hefferen/


In his colorful, natural-looking branch art, Georgia’s Tom Chambers brings the outdoors in.

The artist: Chambers' interest in art began in an Orlando, Fla., high school, where his first art class was taught by his football and track team coach. At the University of Tampa, where he attended college on a football scholarship, Chambers studied sculpture, drawing and painting. He put his art on hold after he married, began a family and entered the business world. In 2007, after 34 years in retail, he took an early retirement to pursue his love of art full time.

The company: Branching Out, based in Blairsville, produces wall and free-standing sculpture using a combination of wood and acrylic. Chambers began creating his art in 1994, but went full time in 2007 after he and his wife moved from Florida to the North Georgia mountains.

What's popular: Custom designs ($75 to $3,000), often in bright colors and incorporating Asian Willow or Japanese Mulberry branches.

Fun requests: In 2010, he was asked to create a centerpiece sculpture, "Lady in Red," for the Southeastern Horticulture Show in Atlanta. The 5-foot tall red ballgown was made entirely of tree branches. Also, "The Bull," a 6-foot-tall sculpture created for a financial firm in Orlando.

Big break: Joining the Blue Ridge Mountains Art Association, which allowed him to first show his art.

Where to Also at Atlanta-area art shows, including the Piedmont Park Art Festival (Aug. 19-20) in Atlanta and Art in the Park (Sept. 2-4) in Marietta.


Award-winning artist Renee Dinauer creates contemporary, free-form steam-bent wood sculpture for city-chic homes, hotels and corporate spaces.

Renee Dinauer creates light-weight, bent-wood wall sculptures and hangings in subtle naturals and vibrant colors. Contributed by

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The company: Renee Dinauer Sculpture started in 2003 in Santa Rosa, Calif. The artist, who also has a studio in Palm Bay, Fla., has been designing and producing free-form wall and free-hanging wood sculpture since 1990.

The artist: A graduate of UCLA, Dinauer's art career began at college, where she gained inspiration while strolling through the school's sculpture gardens. She experimented with various forms, designs and processes before learning to use white ash to create her fluid, bent wood pieces.

What's popular: Lightweight wood sculpture in subtle naturals or vibrant colors. Prices for custom, residential-sized pieces usually range from $600 to $3,500.

Big break: Created a large sculpture for the Carmel Valley Ranch Resort in Carmel, Calif.

Atlanta ties: Dinauer's work can be found in The Courtyard Marriott in Decatur and at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel.

Where to


Daniel Kelly uses pecky cypress with its distinctive look to craft his modern furniture.

The company: Sugarbone started in Jackson, La., in 2013. Kelly relocated his company to Raleigh, N.C., in 2016. It produces furniture using pecky cypress and reclaimed hardwoods.

The media cabinet with it distinctive organic patterning, is made with pecky cypress by North Carolina based Sugarbone. Contributed by

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What is pecky cypress: The wood, found in Louisiana and some Gulf states, features a network of naturally occurring air pockets and holes, limiting the wood's use as furniture material. But Kelly found a way to fill the wood's holes and burrows with a polyester resin that makes the material strong, functional and stylish.

The artist/designer: Kelly graduated from North Carolina State University with an art and design degree and later earned a master's degree in painting from the University of New Orleans. He has worked with architecture firms fabricating large-scale sculpture and creating smaller interior pieces from different materials.

What's popular: Media cabinets ($2,500 to $3,200).

Other favorites: Consoles ($1,500 to $1,800) because of their versatility.

Fun (or unusual) request: A custom Murphy bed for an architectural firm.

Where to