Coastal Maintenance, Inc. owner Steve Lorrain has been moonlighting in niche furniture making for four years under the moniker Two By Sea. At 67, the professional painter is preparing to turn over the company’s keys to Steve Jr., hang up the ladders and take some long walks on the beach for his new chosen medium, driftwood.
“It's kind of my retirement plan. I do what I call mudroom essentials – shelves with hooks on them and that kind of stuff,” Lorrain said while setting out picture frame after frame. “I call these calendar art. I use a lot of Bob Mitchell's old calendars mostly just to highlight the frames … When I first started doing it, I had a lot of his black and white photos.”
Lorrain's pieces are typically made of driftwood, reclaimed wood, old furniture, old windows and occasionally scrap wood. Some of his pieces feature maps and charts from friends’ fishing vessels and other pieces might flash some old schoolhouse slate or wainscoting from the Wheeler’s Corner Drug Store renovation.
Aside from making cuts, Lorrain uses the wood as he finds it, applies a clear-coat for a uniform texture and look, and rarely distresses the wood himself. Most of the glass he uses for picture frames and mirrors is saved out of old windows and he cuts the glass. Lorrain also refinishes pieces by commission. He noted an irony: “In this day and age everything that's new, people want to look old and everything that's old, they want it to look new.”
The Two By Sea works are becoming more alluring each year, said Lorrain. Having worked since the 1980s in boatyards, on fishing vessels, on the railway and finally in painting and carpentry work, driftwood particularly calls back to his youth in late 1960s midcoast California.
“I had a teacher – kind of an old hippie – who bought a piece of land fairly close to the ocean. He didn't really have a whole lot of money after he bought the land, so he started building his house out of driftwood … The house right now is probably worth $10 million. It's a work of art and that's what got me into it, he's the one who got me interested. He said, ‘Hey, driftwood's laying there free, you just go get it.’”
Lorrain said once his retirement is in full swing within the next year or so and he can come and go as he wishes, he has enough finished pieces to keep space in one of the local shops. He is just waiting to see if the interest is there. “If not, I might just bite the bullet and rent a space next year.”