Whether it is the headboard of a bed
a three-dimensional mountain landscape,
or a dining table with a "river" of turquoise running through it,
AD Tonnesen creates pieces combining exquisite and diverse materials from nature.
It grows quietly and stubbornly in the harsh environment of the Southwest. It is twice as hard as oak and more stable. It has a rich color with warm hues and crimson undertones. I choose it for its variety of grain and its intriguing shapes, which go from wild to sedate. Every piece reveals a story of battle scars and wounds. However, after receiving the attention of a craftsman's caring hands, the wood develops a satisfying silken feel that soothes a sensitive heart.
Juniper trunks and branches are naturally sculpted by nature and make beautiful bed posts and table legs. I usually ebonize them and either leave them as nature made them, or I plane them flat on one or two sides to accent the visual interest of the natural edges. Occasionally, Juniper gets big enough to cut into slabs, and its creamy color is a natural compliment to the warm hues of Mesquite.
Spalting is a natural process created by fungus in a fallen tree. Slabs cut from these trees have incredible details that appear like line drawings containing subtle colors and shapes. I often enjoy using them as foregrounds in my landscape pieces.
In my opinion, Walnut is the perfect complement to Mesquite. It's natural brown color, fine shading and variety of grain is unparalleled. Sometimes I like to use Texas Walnut, sometimes I prefer Colorado or Midwestern Walnut. It can come from many different places, but it is always stunning.
The Navajo used turquoise because it was the color of the sky and "Sleeping Beauty" turquoise is the most vibrantly blue of all. It is by far my favorite variety and so I use no other . Some furniture makers use crushed turquoise in their designs, however, I use only small rounded nuggets in mine. My personal belief is that it is so stunning and powerful that it should be used in moderation. I set it against a black background as this accentuates it and adds drama.
The details in stone are as varied as the details in wood. Picture jasper have beautiful landscape scenes within them: mountains, skies and hillsides combine in a beautiful array of colors and form. Biggs, Deschutes, Owyhee and McDermott are my favorites. They are mostly found in the arid climates of the Northwest.
River rocks, green schist, limestone, red schist and petrified wood are some of the stones I use. I find their colors and textures pleasing. There is something visceral and pleasing about rolling up one's pants and walking barefoot in a river full of tumbled rock. Such rocks are simple yet striking and each is a unique expression of the environment which created it.
Silver is the color of clouds yet has the shine of a morning sun. I like to create and use silver inlays that compliment the natural landscapes in my pieces. Sterling silver has a subtle softness when polished that fits seamlessly with the grains and textures of various woods.
23.5 carat gold leaf is the purest leaf that one can get which can still be handled by human hands. No other substance has the rich color, effulgent glow or contains the lure of the mountains as does gold. At times I inlay it into the voids and cracks of a surface to create depth and glow. Sometimes I use it in conjunction with light transferring materials as it aids in transmitting warmth to the dispersed light and creates a cozy feeling.