Former Windsor wine worker creates works of art from wine barrels
Tranquilino Garcia isn’t the only craftsman in Sonoma County who transforms used wine barrels into home décor and furniture, but he certainly knows how world-class vintages have aged in these oak barrels.
Since arriving in Jalisco County, Mexico 25 years ago, Garcia has become proficient in wine operations. He has considerable experience, particularly in working the fields, pruning vines, applying pesticides and installing irrigation.
“I know what the plant’s process is,” said Garcia, whose mother tongue is Spanish. While Garcia, 45, enjoys the winemaking process, he also sees beyond the obvious. The barrels have a life beyond their original purpose, limited only by his imagination.
The self-taught craftsman transforms metal rims and narrow staves into works of art. Although now employed full-time in masonry work, Garcia spends much of his spare time making tables, chairs and artwork from barrels that once held local vintages. .
Every other Sunday, he turns a corner of the Windsor Certified Farmers Market into a showroom for his business, Art Barrel Creations by Tranquilino. He has been a salesperson there since 2013. Visitors rave about his work. “They say to me, ‘This is amazing. It’s beautiful.’ They love my stuff and praise me for using recycled barrels, ”he said.
Customers appreciate the art that goes into Garcia’s pieces. “Sometimes people come to see him and have ideas and explain them,” said his wife, Rocio Mercado, who helps market sales. “They are really, really happy and grateful” when he is able to turn their ideas into custom furniture.
His Sloth Susans ($ 70) are top sellers, as is his court art. Garcia shapes metal rims into hearts, stars, moons and trees ($ 20 each) that can be hung from fences or hung from porches and patios. Three different sized hearts that are strung together to swivel in the breeze are particularly popular, at $ 60.
“Sometimes,” Garcia said, “I make mistakes.” Although he was disappointed with a slightly misshapen heart he created, a woman immediately fell in love with it. “She said, ‘This is my broken heart.'”
Garcia learns from every mishap and notes that mistakes can sometimes “make things better for other ideas.” He thinks about how to make specially requested items. “Sometimes at night I have ideas and I wake up with something amazing,” he said.
Tina Castelli, who runs the Windsor Market, said Garcia’s stand was particularly popular. “He was a great salesperson. It’s a destination, ”she said.
Castelli considers Garcia a ‘perfectionist’ who cleans his space of any debris before installing a rug, pergola and umbrellas to display his selection of tables, chairs, bar stool sets, benches and decorative items, all made. from dried wine barrels.
“It tastes really good,” she said.
Garcia began selling in the market soon after discovering the world of wine barrel art. He was working in a local cellar when he spotted a candle holder and a table made from the fine staves that form the barrels. He was fascinated and wanted to try his hand at the craft. “I look at this and I understand,” he recalls.
He started making furniture and decorative items for his family (he and his wife have three children, an 8-year-old son, and 15 and 19-year-old daughters), then friends started asking him for his crafts. . Soon after, he applied to the market, packed chairs from his garden and “a few little things” and never looked back.
He is sold in other markets around North Bay, some of which were put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, but sees his hometown market as a great place to showcase his talents.
Garcia works on his wine barrel designs whenever he can. “I really like art,” he said. “When I finish a work of art, I feel good. I feel better when people come to buy my stuff and like my job.
He tries to find a balance between his interests and his responsibilities. “I’m breaking into three pieces,” he laughed. “One for my family, one for my job and one for my art.”
He goes to his garage to pursue his passion after spending his working days installing flagstone pavers and building fireplaces, retaining walls, outdoor barbecues and kitchens and other masonry projects.
Garcia has a preference for barrels that once contained red wine; the deep coloring adds richness to the wood. In a typical month, he makes about three chairs, five lazy Susans, and 20 decorative shapes from metal rims. “The building and the practice are everything,” he said. “I’m getting better and better.”