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ARTIST PROFILE: Rustic furniture a family affair for the Posts

December 15, 2017
By STEVE LESTER - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

AuSABLE FORKS-There's nothing like a traumatic brain injury to set your life on a course you'd only dreamed about.

Larry Post worked a variety of blue-collar, dead-end jobs after high school to include driving a mover's truck all over the country and working at a paper mill that specialized in toilet paper and paper towels.

"It was embarrassing telling people I made toilet paper for a living," Post said.

Article Photos

Larry Post works on a design in his expanded shop on Route 9N near AuSable Forks.
(Photo provided — Steve Lester)

For thrills, he liked to ski in a risky fashion.

His wife and business partner, Joann, said, "On skis, he was always a bit of a "

"Kook," he chimed in as she struggled to find the right word.

On Whiteface Mountain one day in 2003, Larry flew off a ledge expecting to land in deep soft snow only to find that much of it had melted leaving nothing but rocks to land on. Although he was wearing a helmet, he still hit the rocks with such force that he had a stroke two days later while in the hospital.

"I had a subdural hematoma," he said, which is considered a medical emergency caused by a head injury strong enough to burst blood vessels leading to pooled blood pushing on the brain. The after-effects included partial paralysis, loss of stamina and the sudden ability to memorize large groups of numbers.

"He became a numbers savant," Joann said.

This ability to glance at an address book and memorize all the phone numbers in it began to fade as his brain healed over the next six months.

"Which is unfortunate because it was kind of handy," Larry said.

During his recovery, he collected Social Security disability benefits and spent a fair amount of time doing next to nothing, yet thinking he could be doing something productive with all that free time.

Larry had always dabbled in woodworking ever since his first classes in wood shop in seventh grade.

"Wood shop was the only reason I went to school," he said.

So Larry began making wooden boats and displaying them in a gallery in Keene Valley owned by George Jaques.

Impressed by his talent, Jaques gave him some photographs of a grandfather clock and asked him to build one like the one pictured. Less than a week after he delivered it, Jaques called him up and told him to build two more because he'd just sold the first one.

Larry began to spend large amounts of time in his original shop that used to be a pump house for an Atlas missile during the Cold War.

"A lot of people don't know we had an actual Atlas missile silo up here until about the 1960s," Joann said.

Under the company name of L Post Rustics, his products began to catch on, leading to an expansion into a second shop and finally a third and much larger one completed in 2015. The original shop that used to be the pump house for the ICBM is now used for storage.

"No matter how much room you got you always wind up filling it up," he said.

"It's been a process because we grow every year," Joann added.

These days, they specialize in "custom one-of-a-kind art furniture, cabinetry and hand carving designed and created by the Post family," they say. All four members of the family contribute to the business with enough orders to keep them all working seven days a week if they wanted, which is what Larry and Joann usually do largely because there is little else they would rather do.

Joann, a self-professed "frustrated artist," joined the business in 2007 after working as a nurse for 25 years. She does finishing work and contributes designs, artwork and rustic detailing, and she helps with the business operations.

Their son, Ryan, designs and builds cabinets with the help of a computer.

Their daughter, Jillian, does ornate wooden hand carvings in painstaking detail on such items as head boards and large mantles. Many of her works carry Adirondack themes using native wildlife figures. She was unavailable for comment because she had taken a rare day off to observe her 30th birthday.

They say the major turning point in their business happened in 2009 when they entered their works in their first public art show, the Annual Rustic Furniture Fair in Blue Mountain Lake.

"We figured it would be a good learning experience," Joann said, which is a nice way of saying they were afraid people might snicker at the quality of their work. "And all we did was win the People's Choice Award."

Since then, they've won it three more times and also won the Maker's Choice Award three times.

Most of their orders come from local sources, many of which involve vacation homes. They received an order from one such home that included no less than 14 bathroom vanities for the home's 14 bathrooms. Other orders come in from as far away as the west coast thanks to the internet and "a little from word-of-mouth," Larry said.

Additional customers include area resort hotels such as the Whiteface Lodge and The Point Resort.

With interest in their products always expanding, combined with extra room in their large farmhouse along Route 9N a few miles east of AuSable Forks, now that Ryan and Jillian have moved out, they converted their downstairs into a public gallery. During the winter months, visitors may usually browse between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends, and by appointment during the week. During the summer months, Joann says it is "open most days but still best to call."

The prices on their works can vary to a considerable degree depending on how much hand carving goes into them, but one doesn't seek their services in the interests of finding any bargain basement deals. An average-sized dining room table in their gallery that seats six carries a price tag of $4,600.

This spring they plan to raise awareness of their business even more when they take part in a show in downtown Philadelphia.

Not bad for a business that began as an after-effect following a traumatic brain injury.

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