Made in Eastern Iowa: A precise pursuit in Fairfield

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FAIRFIELD, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Doug Adams knows “the look.”

Doug Adams, of Fairfield, owns Spalted Wood Gallery and creates the very details and precise pieces that are seen all throughout gatherings in Iowa, as well as his three galleries.

It’s what people often emit when they come across his spalted wood creations.

“One of the most things is watching people and the reaction when they come into the booth,” said Adams. “I see a jaw drop or I see awe on somebody’s faces, then I know I’ve been successful.”

His presence at large gatherings, such as the Downtown Cedar Rapids Farmers Market, is where we came across his creations of wood and wire. An idea that started decades ago growing up out east with his brother.

“We played with some wire and we came up with a tree,” said Adams. The ones we have now have grown quite a bit but the basic structure was there. I took a break from making the trees and learned woodworking and came back to it ten years ago. I’ve put wood and trees together.”

In the deep woods, north of Fairfield, is where Doug works his craft. The wood from the property and the creation filling the mind.

“It’s the shape, seeing the curves, the way the bark is kind of rough,” said Adams as he inspected one piece. “ All of this individual grain that is convoluted around the outside. You’re not seeing its major beauty right now. When it gets sanded, all of those details kind of come alive.”

Patience also follows in getting the best “bend” for the circle to frame a piece.

“One of the most complicated bit of woodworking,” Adams said. “Laminate bending where the pieces are glued around this template and clamped with two pieces of wood and, at the end, when we’re all glued up, it looks like this. This is about 55 to 60 clamps. We leave this overnight and we take it out.”

All to reveal the intricate craft that he takes all across the region, leaving so many people to wonder how exactly he does this.

“There’s something about that round and every single piece is completely different even though it’s the same size,” said Adams. “Every tree is different. That’s the most fun is finding the uniqueness and the contrast of a tree stand out and be powerful.”