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Davids continue family tradition of woodworking
If you attend Madison’s Art Fair on the Square around the state capitol this weekend, and you make your way towards the booths near Monona Terrace, you will see a couple of local residents, as Tyler David and his father, Gary, will be selling some of their creations at the annual event.
    The booth will have a number of items father and son have created, side by side, in their workshop in Potosi, and symbolic of what each has learned from each other as they have been rubbing shoulders for more than a decade.
    “I have wanted to do something like this since I got out of art school,” Gary said of the works he has been creating for the art fair.
    Tyler led him on the venture, something the younger David has been honing since a young age. One week shy of turning 21, he has gone into galleries across the region, selling more than 6,000 handmade pieces, and it’s allowing him to pay for college.
    Tyler is the fifth generation of Davids working with wood, with Gary noting that his great-grandfather used to have a lumber yard just across the street from their workshop and showroom in Potosi. It’s the lumber yard sitting right next to the Potosi Brewery. His late father, Marvin, had a lumber company for many years, and as a teen, Gary worked at the yard, but wanting to be more creative, he studied art, and eventually moved to New York.
    That started a four-decade career making custom wood installations - bars like that at the brewery, as well as altars and other furniture. Gary noted that he worked with clients to take their idea to make it reality, putting his spin and attention to detail on those items that would take thousands of man-hours to do.
    As he and his wife started their family, they moved back to the region, first  in Galena before eventually relocating to Potosi.
    Tyler has been following his dad in the workshop since he was four-years-old. At first he was hanging out, making little sculptures out of scrap wood, and doing things like sanding down some items, like when his father was building the Potosi Brewery bar. In 2008, when helping his father and grandfather assemble the bar, he beamed with pride that the massive bar - something he worked on - would be there for everyone to see.
    But he was itching to do more than just sand or build scrap wood sculptures.

    So when he was eight-years-old, his dad set him up on the lathe. “I was using a lathe because I was so young my dad didn’t let me use any other equipment,” Tyler quipped.
    Tyler worked and worked on his technique. At first, he was just taking the octagon-shaped cylinders, and was making them round, and getting the basic shapes for the beer bottle tap handles that Gary was making for Potosi beer. But he was soon getting a feel, and started adding details to his prototypes.
    There was a parish art show when Tyler was 10 and he wanted to make something for the show. What would it be - both Tyler and Gary thought it needed to have a purpose, the turned wood, so they came up with candleholders.
    Tyler’s work was becoming more him, and not utility.
    “Then he did what no self-respecting woodworker would do,” Gary recalled. Tyler had taken a carpentry crayon, and began holing it against the turning wood. The spinal began to be caked with the crayon, and then he wiped it away. What was left was similar to what Tyler’s creations look like today - a colored wood, with the grain showing through.
    “It was one of those ‘eureka’ moments,” Gary recalled. “It was one of these beautiful creations I have never seen before.”
    Tyler began pushing out his unique candlesticks, numbering each one. When he was 13, he was featured in some local newspapers, and local galleries reached out to carry his work, loving the story.
    He and his dad began going to craft shows, supply shows, selling more.
    At the moment, Tyler has numbered more than 6,000 candlestick holders, and that does not include the votive holders, or one of his newer creations, airplane holders.
    Standing in the Outside the Lines Gallery this past Saturday morning, where he was giving a presentation, he spotted one of his works from 2016, and compared it to one of his newer pieces. Tyler has grown in his style over the years, changing from lumber crayons to actual crayons to pastels, and his constant work on the lathe - spending eight hours a day in the shop - shows a precise detailing where those turns are tighter, smaller.
    Each of his works now gets five coats of lacquer.
    Seeing his son’s work, and how he has surpassed him on expertise on the lathe, inspired Gary to try as well. Instead of working 1,500 hours on a project for a client, he can work 15 to create smaller pieces, like coatracks, and flex his creativity on it.
    “I am jumping on the same bandwagon with Tyler, and I am doing these exciting, colorful things in 15 hours,” Gary said.
    Tyler had other jobs while he was growing up - noting his enterprising spirit that had him create a lemonade stand or mow yards, Tyler really enjoyed setting his own hours of working with wood.
    At first following his father’s footsteps in studying art at UW-Platteville, Tyler shifted to business and will be graduating a semester early this December.
    After graduation, Tyler is planning to increase his work - double the trade and craft shows he goes to, build his online commerce, and travel across the country.
    “I just want as many people as possible to see my work,” Tyler said.
    Gary was happy when Tyler decided to switch majors. For one, Tyler has acquired a lot of knowledge of art, as well as learning details about every variety of wood they may use, and can learn more over time.
    But with his degree, he won’t have as much trial and error in learning what to do in business, as Gary went through early on in his career.
    For Gary, in the workshop wearing matching shirts, working with his son has been more than he imagined.
    For awhile it had been even more special as they had three generations in there.
    Gary’s father, Marvin, passed away two years ago at the age of 90, but for the last five years before he passed, he was in the shop with them. In a built of a full-circle, Marvin had begun taking those octagon cylinders, and smoothing them out for Tyler, before he started making canes.

    Having just preliminarily set up their booth, Tyler and Gary discuss the future. Gary talks about maybe someday adding more employees, while Tyler talks about being receptive to making custom pieces for people. The one thing that is certain is that if they are not out of town at a craft show, they most likely can be found in the workshop in Potosi, working together.