Colorado man builds one-of-a-kind rocking chair in Santa Fe National Forest


SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Denver man is now putting the finishing touches on a unique rocking chair built out of branches from the Santa Fe National Forest. This, after spending two weeks in seclusion, creating his work of art, with little to no human contact.

This man is building something from nothing.

“When I go harvest, I’ll just grab anything that I can find,” Vance Miller-Bickenell said.

What may look like just another branch in the woods is now a piece in the intricate puzzle that Vance Miller-Bickenell put together to build a one of a kind rocking chair.

For the past 20 years, the Denver man has been living out a lifelong dream, traveling around the country, connecting with nature, by building chairs with his own two hands.

“I couldn’t walk through the forest without seeing ‘Oh! There’s a post! There’s a rail! There’s a spindle!’ Everywhere I looked I saw it,” said Miller-Bickenell.

Now on chair number 26, his journey has brought him to New Mexico twice. The first time near Roswell in 2015.

“I have definite like, I don’t know, sort of romantic pull to New Mexico,” Miller-Bickenell said.

This time, Miller-Bickenell spent two weeks camped out in the Santa Fe National Forest, just outside of Tererro.

He says he spent several hours every morning searching for small pieces of scrub oak branches. Then spent the rest of the day piecing together the incredible piece of art.

It’s a very intricate process for Miller who uses a special technique called finger splicing to connect the branches.

“I wanted to take the tree and turn it into a chair. I didn’t want to just take sticks and put them together,” said Miller-Bickenell.

Twenty-one branches went into making this piece. It’s an experience that he says provides a unique connection to the earth every time he completes another chair.

“I take away a sense of peace that I don’t necessarily have in my daily life,” Miller-Bickenell said.

Miller-Bickenell also says that once he gets back home to Denver, he will glue the pieces together, sand it to smooth out the joints, and then put a finish on it. He’ll then add the leather upholstery.

After each chair is made, Miller-Bickenell says he will then contact interior designers and artists in hopes of selling the piece. He hopes to sell this one for $6,500.

He says he wants to go to the South next to work with Dogwood trees, but his big dream would go to Japan.

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