Cloud Cabin Arts

About Cloud Cabin Arts:

Cloud Cabin Arts is family owned and operated and was founded in January 2013 with the inspiration of three things: a passion for woodworking, a desire to create lasting beauty in the local community and above all, shop owner Michael Cantwell and partner Stacey’s’ little girl, Nica.

 

We strive to bring you the best work your money can buy, with as little impact on our environment as possible.  This is why we only use local sustainably sourced materials and low/no-voc finishes.  Advances in technology bring us high quality finishes that are much less toxic than traditional alternatives, keeping the areas inside and outside your home as pure as possible.

 

The name Cloud Cabin Arts was inspired by our cabin life on a beautiful bluff overlooking the James River.  There would be mornings, particularly during the changing of the seasons, where the view 10 feet off the back deck was unknown. As the sun crept up high enough to peak over the trees on the opposite side of the cabin, the fog would slowly evaporate, leaving a trail that followed the river winding through the trees far beyond the view of the water, each day resolving with an illuminated bright blue sky animated with wildlife. That was the cabin in the clouds.

We hope you like what you see here today, and if there’s anything we can do for you, please let us know!

About the Owner:

As a young child, owner Michael Cantwell was intrigued by the mysterious workings of anything in sight exploring the construction and makeup of anything he could get his hands on, building his creativity and conceptual imagination from very early on.

 

Cantwell’s grandfather had a major impact on the direction of his life.  His interests included architecture and design, engineering and woodworking, all of which Cantwell naturally gravitated towards.  The time spent in his grandfather’s shop are permanently engraved in his mind: the smell of shellac, the feel of hand-powered tools on the wood and the woodworking lessons.

Cantwell himself explored architectural drafting and design in middle and high school, but there was just one problem- he wasn’t a sitter, he was a doer and a creator. His restless hands were seeking more than paper and pencils, later to become reduced to a mouse and screen. The industrial education department at his small rural Northern Virginia high school was limited to basic woodworking and provided a limited outlet for the creativity within. It would be years before he could finally develop what he knew, yet strangely didn’t know, he had to do.

 

The sawdust freely floating in the air, the power tools and the simple choreographed dance of everyone in the shop working together to create, it was all so exciting! His mind was finally appeased of the thing it had been trying to get to for 20 years. He landed a job as a cabinetmakers assistant and it was here that his professional level woodworking had finally begun. Working beside some of the best cabinetmakers in Richmond, he was acquiring a multitude of skills, ranging from planning and construction to installation. He took to it as if he had been doing it for years, and in a way he had. The unique activity of his young mind, the hours upon hours spent in his grandfathers’ shop and his drafting experience were finally paying off. He was quickly trusted to manage smaller aspects of larger jobs, still under the wing of the lead cabinetmaker, and less than 3 years later was given his own jobs to lead. This wide range of experience would become invaluable to his future success, providing him with the skills to eventually do this on his own. But not just yet. There was one more roadblock. A chronic illness had stopped him in his tracks and it couldn’t be at a more inconvenient time.

During a three month retreat to Yogaville, located in Buckingham, VA, he met his partner Stacey.  Three months turned to three years and one day they discovered they would be expecting a surprise: their first baby!  When hearing this news he knew it would be time to bring his dream to a reality.  In less than 2 months they wrapped up their quite life in the country, moved and by March were open for business. They found a house outside of Charlottesville, conveniently equipped with the space necessary for a woodshop. The house was on an old working farm and, oddly enough, the space that would become the woodshop was also the shop for the farm. Cantwell started right where he was at that time, and with simple tools he built simple furniture. He secured a space at the Charlottesville City Market downtown, and showed up early each Saturdaymorning to sell what he had made that week. Business trickled in for the first few months, but was booming by summer, enabling him to invest in more tools and lumber, and began building bigger and better things.

Today, as a graduate of the WIBO program under the direction of the Community Investment Collaboration, he’s now gained the business knowledge necessary to expand the business to include an assistant of his own and a shop fully outfitted to meet a wide variety of needs, and he couldn’t be more proud. His life is a multi-directional gift. His work is an expression of his true self, a gift to his clients, and the complete manifestation of this gift is in fact a gift to himself.  Mike and Stacey’s beautiful little girl, Nica, is and always will be the fuel that delivers this gift.