Expect the unexpected from Kerry Heath, a self-taught craftsman with a vivid imagination. In his North Port studio fragrant with wood and dappled with color, Heath creates case goods-armoires, sideboards and cabinets-that are as striking in form as they are in hue and texture.
Heath's eclectic wooden furniture is the canvas for his whimsical artwork, inspired by design books, magazines and even cartoons. Especially striking is a line of graceful art cupboards that customers have used as linen closets, lingerie cupboards and CD racks. One piece was customized for use as a garden closet, with shelves for plants and hooks for tools; Heath is building another that will be used as a bar, with racks for glasses on top and a sliding tray for mixing drinks. That one will be a contemporary black and gray, but Heath has painted traditional beauties in neutrals as well as funkier combinations in periwinkle blue and lime green.
"I've experimented with just about every color combination you can imagine," says Heath, who blends layers of paint for depth and a tough finish.
Heath culls his accents from all around him: an abandoned reed fence, antique metal hinges, ceramic tiles and clay knobs he fashions and bakes in his home oven have all found their way onto his pieces. He shakes up a pecky cypress sideboard in neutral shades with zigzag skirting and wicker inlays, and hand-makes all the patterns for the funky-shaped legs he puts under his creations.
Heath started woodworking while building custom homes on Boca Grande and switched full-time to art furniture five years ago. As well as custom and direct orders, he sells his pieces locally through Rosemary Rabbit on St. Armands Circle, Fanciful Furnishings in Sarasota and Artistic Illusions on Boca Grande. Heath takes custom orders for traditional furniture and accessories, but his heart lies in the quirky and beautiful art pieces he labors over, for as long as 80 hours on each one.
"I actually have dreams about designs," Heath says. "This is where I have the most fun."
For more information, call (941) 423-6589 or check out www.furnishyoursoul.com.