Fred Hean Furniture Custom Cabinetry, Furniture, Architectural Design Woodworking; Located in Charlottesville, Virginia

photo of fred

About Fred HeanÖ

All my life I have been building and drawing things. From playing with blocks as a child, to building models as a boy, to designing and building architectural models as a high school and college student, these are activities in which I could always spend many contented hours, nourishing a feeling of creative accomplishment. Summertime in my college years was mostly spent working as a carpenterís helper, gaining hands-on practical experience in the building industry. The physical activity of it was usually appealing on some level, perhaps related to being part of some endeavor where accomplishments were visible and tangible on a daily basis, even though it took a lot of sweat and effort to achieve it. After college I continued working in the carpentry field, as it came easily to me, and I wasnít at all ambitious about having a prestigious career. However, I did soon have the idea that I would like to become a cabinetmaker and learn about finer points of woodworking.

Within the year, I had moved into a house with some aspiring artists, who exposed me to other avenues of creativity. I also encountered over the next few years the works and thoughts of various master craftsmen in the fieldóespecially James Krenov, Sam Maloof, George Nakashima, and Tage Frid---all of whom contributed, unknown to them, to my education by osmosis, by reading, and by practice. Through these years I was still working as`a carpenter too, but getting the occasional paying commission to build some furniture or cabinetry.

I really set up shop in 1980, living and working in an old house. I certainly canít say it took off as a business, I was much too naÔve about what it meant to really be in business. I didnít have a business plan, I never even advertised, it was all word of mouth references and repeat customers. Iíd barter with my dentist to make him some office furniture, for example, and then one of his partners asked me to make some furniture for him. Sometimes Iíd be doing remodeling jobs, and sometimes furniture or kitchens, but I could usually learn something while I was earning a livelihood, as well as earning the respect of my clients. For a guy with no formal training in the field, I was happily self employed doing the kind of work I enjoyed, and that has pretty much been the story thus far.

There are the additional elements now of a family to support, a working wife and two children, and a mortgage to pay. Those responsibilities keep me working too, but Iím very fortunate to have a career for which Iím usually happy to get up in the morning, so that I can continue to make something.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope the rest of the website was informative.

~ Fred