Blair Sligar was a student at the University of Central Florida where he studied art. Yet Sligar struggled to maintain the shop, family and school. “I quit school,” he said. “I jumped fully into woodworking and for the past seven years that’s what I’ve done.” Nowadays Sligar is the founder and lead designer of Hog Eat Hog (HEH). HEH is a woodworking shop specializing in furniture and art installations. “I don’t know I call it ‘rascalling’ it…I take a different way of getting things done,” he said.
Sligar started out as a finish carpenter for several years. Finish carpentry involves installing doors, trim, moldings, cabinets, and shelving. It has everything to do with putting the finishing touches on the interior of a home. As a former art student, Sligar says he “really did not enjoy it.” He wanted to do something more creative and expressive. “I wish I had been more grateful for it at the time,” he said. “it taught me a lot of the basics of just good woodworking skills.”
I don’t know I call it ‘rascalling’ it…I take a different way of getting things done
Projects like these have allowed Sligar the freedom to explore his craft. “I think Orlando has been awesome. I’ve found a place where people want what I’m doing. I don’t really have to fight for that [whereas] I might have to do that in a larger city.”
Learning the basics of woodworking gave Sligar the foundation to build HEH. As a finish carpenter Sligar developed the aesthetic that can be seen around town. Order a sausage at Cask and Larder and you’re served from one of Sligar’s handcrafted wooden platters. While sitting at the Imperial bar it’s hard to miss the wacky and seamless integration of woodwork from around the world.
In the end, Sligar found a “different way of getting things done.” Although he quit studying art in at UCF, he still found his own way to pursue it. Nowadays he is working in a new direction with his woodwork. Progressing towards what he describes as “more sculptural, more multimedia, more narrative based” projects. In the middle of the shop is a giant curved desk Blair had been working on for a client. Today he is using the desk as a surface to work on a new project, a sculptural armadillo. That armadillo is a small testament to Sligar’s new, and more creative, direction.
In the beginning, Sligar struggled to maintain his family life and the shop while in school. Today, the moment you step into the shop it all comes together. In Sligar’s office, his daughter Nahli has a tiny desk with a little toolbox and a stack of crayon drawings. His daughter would emerge from the office and check on how the armadillo was coming along. “She once asked me to make her a mouse with baby chicks and mice coming out of it,” he laughed. Perhaps she was hoping it would go into her collection of things made by her father. “That’s kind’ve the whole point of all this,” Sligar said. “It’s how can I integrate my life, and the way that I work best, and the way that I want to live my family life, my spirituality, my work, it’s just so tied together for me. That’s really what a lot of this is, this whole place.”