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Local Artisan Keeps 'Dream of the City' Alive in Handmade Furniture

A closer look at one of the vendors you'll find this weekend at the Rust Belt Market.

The Rust Belt Market in Ferndale offers a unique experience for patrons as well as vendors. Each week, Patch will feature one artist to get a closer look at what they do.

Dave Hudson

Today, meet Dave Hudson of Hudson Industrial. Hudson, who lives in Berkley, makes home furnishings and sculptures from reclaimed wood and metal.

This is his last weekend at the market for a while, and Rust Belt co-owner Chris Best says he wishes Hudson could stay longer but takes solace in knowing he'll be back again.

"Dave Hudson embodies the ideal vendor we are seeking at the Rust Belt," Best said. "He is an artisan practicing an ancient craft. He is talented yet humble and easy to talk to."

Here's what Hudson had to say in a recent chat with Patch:

How would you describe your work?

"The work I do is primarily furniture. I like to call it furniture and functional art but it's mostly just furniture. I use a lot of reclaimed wood and metal, antique wood, beverage crates and things like that. A lot of wood from old houses and buildings in Detroit."

Hudson says he also does metal sculpture, but most of the pieces he sells at the Rust Belt are tables, foot stools, shelving and buffet tables.

How did you get your start?

A professional visual effects artist by day, Hudson had worked on sculptures and found-object art as a hobby for years and it eventually "just evolved into stuff that people can actually use."

He started making furniture after he noticed some metal and old barn wood leftover from one of his projects.

"I was like, well, I think I'm going to build a coffee table," Hudson recalls. He initially made the table for his living room, then wondered if anyone might want to buy it. He listed it on Etsy.com and it sold within a week.

"I just started kind of hammering stuff out," he said. Soon he was making a couple pieces each week, which is when he became a vendor at the Rust Belt.

As for using reclaimed materials, Hudson says he had a studio at the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit for a while and was inspired by "being there, being amongst artists and those big old buildings."

Hudson noticed all of the materials laying around the city and started using them in his art - "Sort of trying to keep the dream of the city alive," he said.

What inspires you?

"It's all sort of an organic thing, really. I get ideas here and there and I'll sketch some ideas out but nothing ever turns out like the sketch unless it's something specifically ordered by a customer. If I'm making a piece just to make it, it's pretty organic. I'll make something and I'll look on the floor and see a scrap piece of wood sitting there, and instantly I'll picture another table using that scrap piece of wood ... it's kind of like this evolving sort of thing."

What is it about the Rust Belt that attracted you to it?

"It's a cool place. It's got a really neat vibe. There are a lot of artists, a lot of creative people, you can just kind of feel it. .... It's just a really, really great space. It kind of inspires me to make more stuff."

Tell us one thing about you or your work that would surprise us.

"I spent 13 years in the medical field before going into art. I was a combat medic in the Navy for four years, and after working in the medical field I worked on ambulances and in hospitals. I did that for a while and then finally decided to go back to art school when I went back to Chicago."

Another interesting fact about Hudson is that he also did mixed martial arts on the side and competed in it for years.

You can check out Hudson's work from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Rust Belt Market. For more information, visit Hudson's web site at www.hudsonindustrialfurnishings.com.

Chris Best February 17, 2013 at 02:18 AM
I have to speak up on behalf of the artist David Hudson. I assure you that all of the material he uses for his functional art are NOT from properties that could be sold. He should be commended like all the other artists using materials that would ordinarily be put into a landfill. Keep up the good work David!!
Rachel Heller February 17, 2013 at 03:02 AM
Bitter and misguided commentary is not warranted, janet. There are many artisans purchasing materials from homeowners, builders and demo crews, even answering free 'curb alerts' on craigslist. Had you presented yourself as what you claim to be, a concerned citizen and EX-reporter , had you spoken with a single iota of intelligence and not attacked the artist, I am quite sure your accusations would have been addressed. Kudos, David. Your work is lovely and is a beautiful addition to the market.
Suzy P February 17, 2013 at 03:13 AM
I was just at the Rust Belt Market today and saw this WAY COOL furniture. If I had more money I'd have a room of it. Way to go David!
Jessica Schrader February 17, 2013 at 03:18 AM
Hi Janet, the contact link on his web site seems to work for me (using Firefox). The artist did mention purchasing materials in our conversation - hopefully you are able to get the details you need if you're interested. This is meant to be a quick Q&A to highlight individual vendors at the Rust Belt each week. Hope that helps. Thanks for reading!
The Boss February 18, 2013 at 04:34 AM
Awesome stuff, Dave!

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