Working in ‘steam punk’ and ‘diesel punk’ styles, two Monmouth brothers turn metal and wood cast-offs into art.
MONMOUTH — As kids growing up in Lewiston, brothers Corey and Jason DuFour built giant, super cool, super unsafe multi-story treehouses out of anything, anywhere.
Think precarious bridges stretching from tree to tree.
“We found nails that we had to straighten out,” said Jason, 40. “Most of the times they weren’t long enough, so things weren’t held together very well. That was our first learning experience in creation.”
These days, their collaborations are industrious without the death-defying elements. Using mostly found or scavenged objects, they’re making tables, chairs and lamps out of wrenches, gears and braided wires. They’re electrifying ax handles and wooden bowls to create oddly beautiful effects, and they’re turning Grandma’s vintage silverware into wearables.
Home base for DuForge Studio, a play on their last name, is the former Curly’s restaurant on Main Street, but their work can be found around downtown Lewiston.
There’s a wooden bicycle hanging in DaVinci’s Eatery. Funky furniture at Bear Bones Beer and Ben’s Burritos. And more, soon, to be placed all over The Curio Art & Alehouse coming to 110 Lisbon St., where Corey is one of three partners.
“DuForge will be doing almost the whole build-out on the space. We’re going with our aesthetic,” said Corey, 41, who still lives in Lewiston.
And if they had to put that aesthetic into words?
From Corey: “Machine-age, late Victorian into WWII, I would say.”
“He’s more the steam punk, I’m more the diesel punk,” said Jason. “It’s what comes after steam punk: the fossil fuels, just a dirty, rot, industrial (look).”
Ready for one more descriptor? The official studio tagline is “Trans-Atlantic Steam Art.”
Think lots of metal. Gears. Wood. New uses, re-imagining X into Y.
Jason, who lives in Monmouth, never leaves the transfer station without a find.
“I rummage through the wood pile, the metal pile, there’s free tables where people just drop stuff off, so I find vintage things,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Jason discovered two old tennis rackets there and hung them on the studio wall in a crisscross pattern as they wait to become . . . something.
“I just found another one yesterday. It’s in my car,” he said.
They formed the studio in 2016 after years working separately, and bought the former Curly’s that year. As Corey works to open The Curio in Lewiston, Jason’s long-term plan is to do something similar in the front rooms of their studio with a gallery, classes and incubator space for artists.
The brothers’ first collaborative project under the studio banner: Turning an antique horse-drawn dredge into the “dredge throne” that sits now at Ben’s Burritos.
“We put upholstery on the inside and we used vintage circus tent stakes for the legs, and we have valve wheels on the sides,” said Corey. “It looks like something out of ‘Nightmare Before Christmas.’ Tim Burton would definitely adore that chair.”
The studio has a regular presence at Art Walk L-A, the Sunday Indie Market and The Hive Artisan Co-Op in downtown Lewiston. Their creations start at $25 and can run into the thousands, depending upon the time invested.
About one-third of their work is commissions. The rest comes from having an idea they’ve wanted to try, inspiration born from a particular find or time — some projects just present themselves slowly, frustratingly, but eventually.
Jason, who works at a machine shop during the day, found a bunch of metal cams — irregular discs with a hole through each one — that the shop was throwing out. His first thought: Welding the discs together as a table top. It was a fine idea until the welds cooled and the studio filled with the pops! of the metal snapping apart.
“I’d never seen you that disappointed, you had so much work into it,” said Corey. “I was devastated for him. (So he proposed,) ‘Why don’t we just figure out a way to make it vertical because that way it will hold the weight, the welds won’t break?'”
It was tipped upright, like a mirror, married with a half-log to create a half-moon table and given sprinkler pipe legs. It’s not love, Jason said, but it’s coming along.
They credit social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram, in getting word out about the studio as it grows.
“I’d need the (creative) outlet or I’d go insane,” said Corey. “The outlet is so important, even if I’m just laying in bed thinking and pulling apart things in my head and recreating what they could be.”