Writer: McCale Ashenbrener
Photos: Heather James
A glowing cerulean river meanders its way past graceful wood grain, finding origin in a sunset valley below metal tipped mountain peaks. You won’t find this piece of art in a gallery, although the talent needed for the complex woodwork, steel fabrication, LED and resin finishing is impressive. Sandwiched between the grab and go snacks and ice-cold beverages at Greenbelt Market next to the Whitewater Park, you can find this artistic display case from Anthony Holzapple and WoodLab, a stunning marriage of form and function, art and ingenuity.
Holzapple has craftmanship in his veins. His grandfather started a construction business in the early 80s in Vacaville, California, along with his dad and uncle. “I was helping to nail off a roof by the age of ten,” he recalls. “They taught me everything I know about woodworking, quality craftsmanship, and work ethic.” Holzapple was always driven to tackle more complicated and artistic projects. In June of 2019 he made the hard decision to leave the family business and moved his wife and three children to Idaho to start Holzapple Custom Designs.
Holzapple specializes in CNC design and fabrication, as well as custom metal and woodwork. “I do high-end residential and commercial remodeling, ornate decorative trim, custom signs, and commissioned pieces of art. I am also a licensed General Contractor with the state of Idaho.” Follow Holzapple Custom Designs on Instagram or Facebook to see some up his recent projects such as the bar at Rembrandts in downtown Eagle and several sign and residential remodeling projects.
Although function is what drives Holzapple’s creation, he is also highly invested in the artistic form. “My artistic process comes from my years of experience working with wood and metal, I can look at a blank canvas, and for me that might be a sheet of metal or piece of wood, and see what could be. One thing that I think sets me apart, is that in a digital world of CAD designers, I still hand draw my designs. This is labor intensive, and likely takes hours longer than creating on a computer but it makes the project more personal.”
It is daunting, some may say terrifying, to take the risk and start your own business. “I had an idea and made it reality, with a world of unknowns. Moved my family across state lines and invested all of our savings for a chance at something bigger than what we had.” Holzapple is grateful to David Gosse at Woodlab for introducing him to incredible opportunities as a new business owner.
Building pieces that endure and inspire gives Holzapple great satisfaction. “One of our best friend’s unfortunately lost their home in the recent and devastating LNU Lightning Complex fires which began August 17th. Everything burned, but they had a wood and steel farm table in the backyard, and that was the only thing still standing. I built them that table. Seeing it survive was a really beautiful thing in the midst of a tragedy.” To make something, guided by function and inspired by artistic form, is a great gift.