Thirty years ago, Mose Rainault, a native of Canada who has been a resident of Taos County now for 36 years, made a piece a furniture at someone's request. He realized that furniture-making was truly …
Thirty years ago, Mose Rainault, a native of Canada who has been a resident of Taos County now for 36 years, made a piece of furniture at someone's request. He realized that furniture-making was truly the creative and focused activity that could turn his life around.
"Somebody left a little 10-inch table saw on the porch one day - I don't know who it was - and I started making crosses." After this table saw was left on his porch, adding further buoyancy to this newfound direction, he moved to Sunshine Valley, then as now a rather remote area north of Questa. There he embraced a healthy lifestyle and opened the door to creating one-of-a-kind functional and beautifully crafted tables, shelves, bed frames and trasteros (storage spaces).
As a young man, Rainault had seen the furniture made by the Shakers. He was acquainted with their ethos, he said, that "in simplicity and in beauty you find God." This philosophy "was what drove them to do the absolutely beautiful furniture that they did. Everything was a piece of art. Everything was functional. Everything had beauty to it. So, when I started making furniture, that's where my drive was."
Inspired then by the Shakers' simple approach, he began his custom furniture business. Rainault uses pine exclusively for his work. "Wood is alive," he said. "It also speaks to you." His process involves "taking a board, looking at it, feeling it" before he begins shaping it into a stool or a tabletop.
Perhaps it is Rainault's organic approach throughout the furniture-building process which accounts for that quality of his work which seems to invite the viewer to touch the smoothness of the wood or to be drawn in by a color Rainault has chosen.
"I'm dyslexic," Rainault said. "I work very simply because I can't follow a schematic. You tell me what you want, give me the size, the color, the function, and I do it." He further explains, "Because I can't follow a blueprint I have to go into the piece and start building." This natural process is further aided by his dreams. "When I wake up," he said, "I get the aha." The subconscious, he said, "solves a lot of my problems, my quandaries."
Many people will see a piece of furniture he has made and tell him they would like a similar one, but people need it "two inches longer or three inches higher." With custom furniture, he points out, not only will a piece of furniture fit a space precisely, but it can also match a particular color scheme or need, such as having more drawers or fewer. With custom-made furniture, he points out. "You get what you want, not [just] what you need." This creative aspect of design is Rainault's favorite part of the process.
With minimum tools, a table saw, sander, power drill and now a nail gun, Rainault creates custom work, often recognizable by the simplicity and coloration of his pieces. "Tables I especially love making because a table is where people meet, where you share, where you have arguments that are safe because you're sitting on the other side of a table. That's where families come together," he points out. His pieces have "an at-home look," for, as he said, they are "made with friendship and love." Rainault also finds it rewarding to get to know the people for whom he does custom work. For him, a major aspect of building furniture for people in Taos County is connecting with his clients. "I get to know the people," he said, "because I'm probably at their home measuring. So, it becomes very personal, and I have that person in mind when I'm working on it."
Since Rainault feels that "everything has been done before," he suggests his clients with custom order ideas simply bring "photographs of something they want."
Recently, Rainault suffered a heart attack which he said was "a gift - it slowed me down" from years of a workaholic attitude. Now he finds himself desiring just to "live with gratitude … I can't live out here with this beauty and this weather without knowing that somehow or other the miracle happened to me … the miracle happened when I got sober." Now, Rainault said, "I have this joy in my heart."
Rainault previously had a shop displaying his work, but now does not show in the Taos area, except for the Questa Studio Tour in August. He also does not have a web page.
"My work is word-of-mouth," he said. "I don't advertise. Just give me a call." People in the Taos or Red River area are invited to call Rainault and he will bring photographs of his work and discuss their project.
Rainault can be reached at (575) 224-4326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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