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Michael Prieto details the "Aha Moment" in July's Pilot Edition

posted at 2014-08-13 15:51:00

Ingenious solutions are often born out of difficult situations, and Michael Prieto, owner of Barrel-Art LLC in Norfolk, Va., has honed ingenuity into a fine art. Creativity and a love of woodworking literally grew from the ashes of a warehouse fire that destroyed nearly everything Michael and his wife, Kambra, had taken to Europe.

Whatever furniture could not be purchased online or replaced, Michael handcrafted it out of wood using photos as models. He came to realize that working wood into objects of beauty was both appealing and satisfying.

wine furniture

Inspiration – or that 'aha moment' – can come out of nowhere, although Michael told Pilot that he credits many tours of the European wine country for the idea to design and build a small wine rack and bar out of an empty wine barrel. After searching for the perfect barrel in several local wineries, an aromatic French oak barrel was found in Bordeaux.

As the compliments and requests – often for other unique pieces – started pouring in, Michael's imagination took off. Ideas for different, more creative uses for otherwise unwanted wine barrels grew and blossomed into Barrel-Art.

wine barrel furniture

Planning to return to the United States and open a business takes courage and determination, especially when you need an international supply system. But the dream was real, so Michael “hit the ground running.”

While he loves being in the wood shop creating his designs, Michael also enjoys selling his pieces at art shows and wine festivals. Speaking with his customers and enjoying their heartfelt reactions to his work is both validating and satisfying.

barrel furniture

In addition to his signature barrel bar piece, Barrel-Art offers custom-fitted Adirondack chairs -- Michael's favorite piece to build. The product line has grown considerably, now featuring a line of furniture and home décor items, including pet beds, bar stools, candle holders and beer and wine flights.

Everything is handmade, using the whole barrel, staves and/or metal barrel hoops. Each piece reflects our professional craftsmanship and attention to detail. Contact us to learn more about our unique European oak wine barrel creations.  

Image Source: Barrel-Art