About Eric Hollenbeck
Eric is the star of “The Craftsman”, a Magnolia Network reality series that has been gaining traction in the last year. As the show’s title implies, Eric is a master craftsman and woodworker, who has been part of the restoration business for decades. Breathing new life into historic homes and long-forgotten objects is his specialty, and Eric takes a particular pride in his work while providing viewers with handy tips and tricks.
Eric was born in 1972 in Eureka, California, where he was raised, and started his first salvage logging company back in 1973. Along with two business partners, Eric took out a $300 bank loan to launch Blue Ox Millworks, which these days has become a respectable timber company with a fantastic environmental record. Thanks to Eric and his business partners’ respect for the environment, Blue Ox has been given lucrative contracts to work in state parks and protected areas of Humboldt County.
A few years later, Eric put his entrepreneurial skills to good use once again when he started a second business, this time with his wife Viviana, focusing on manufacturing prefabricated sheds, and which despite not being as well-known as Blue Ox, helps the couple earn a decent living.
“The Craftsman” premiered in 2022; most of the scenes see Eric hard at work in his mill, spending hours and hours perfecting his woodwork. The TV personality is clearly passionate about what he does, and works closely with local schools, offering students guided tours of his workshop where he then teaches them some of the tricks of the trade. Blue Ox also has a similar program for veterans.
Industry demands and advances in modern technology have revolutionized the woodworking field. Thanks to Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) Machines, products can be produced and mass-produced at faster rates – and with more complex designs – than ever before, while producing less waste. Meanwhile, CNC wood routers are capable of carving detailed and complicated shapes to create art or signs, and rechargeable power tools speed the process up considerably, and require less body strength.
With that said, these advances have only served to make artisanal woodworking even more desirable. The demand for handcrafted work remains – such as for fine art or furniture – so woodworkers such as Eric can charge higher prices than before due, to the rarity of their skillset; other notable names in the modern field include Sam Maloof, Alvar Aalto, Norm Abram and John Boson.
Wood was one of the first materials which early humans worked on, as well as clay, stone, and animal parts. In fact, many stone tools used by Neanderthals were used to work wood, and the development of civilization is closely linked to the working of these materials. So the art of woodworking dates back thousands of years; for example, was essential during the Roman empire, as it provided materials for tools, household items, transportation, and building. Wood was also used for waterproofing materials, energy for heat, and dye. Sadly, many examples of Roman woodworking have been lost to time, but contemporary knowledge has been preserved in literary records by Pliny, Vitruvius, and other renown authors.
Advanced woodworking techniques were also present in ancient Egypt, and the art itself is depicted in drawings of the time. Some of the woodworking tools commonly used by the ancient Egyptians include bow drills, chisels, axes, and pull saws. The Ancient Egyptians also invented veneering, and were the first people to use varnishes on wood. Eventually, wood had to be imported due to deforestation in the Nile valley.
Woodwrights Unite—Celebrate 35 Years of Free Range Woodworking!The Woodwright’s Shop is back with sharp new adventures in hand tool woodworking! Host Roy Underhill carves deep into the grain of our woodcrafting heritage with undertakings that range from an Anatolian rocking cradle, to an American Shaker table, to Dutch carved cookie molds. The cutting edge of creative craftsmanship awaits you when The Woodwright’s Shop with Roy Underhill premieres its 35th season Saturday, September 26, on PBS (check local listings or call your PBS station).
Posted by The Woodwright's Shop on Thursday, September 3, 2015
Given the important role that woodworking has played in both ancient and modern society, it’s perhaps surprising that there aren’t more TV shows dedicated to the subject. “The Woodwright’s Shop”, which aired on PBS from 1979 to 2017, was hosted by master woodworker Roy Underhill, and was an educational show that taught viewers about traditional techniques used in the past, helping provide historical context. Meanwhile, “New Yankee Workshop” was hosted by Norm Abram on PBS from 1989 to 2009, and saw Norm provide viewers with tips and advice while showing them how to make furniture with power tools.
Owned by Warner Bros. Discovery and Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Network is an American cable network with a catalogue rich in lifestyle shows that focus on renovation, home construction and cuisine amongst other topics. The channel first launched as DIY Network in September 1999, and was a spin-off of HGTV, offering home improvement shows before gradually placing more focus on reality series. DIY Network relaunched as Magnolia in 2022, and has been led by Chip and Joanna of “Fixer Upper” fame ever since.
Chip and Joanna first teased the news in November 2018, during an interview with Jimmy Fallon on his “Tonight Show”, confirming that they were in the early stages of launching a lifestyle-focused media network with Discovery Inc. via Magnolia, their personal company. The attractive couple left HGTV shortly after Discovery’s acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive. David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery, then personally met with the Gaines in hopes of forming a joint venture.
Discovery released an official announcement regarding the new venture in April 2019, with a proposed launch date of sometime in 2020, then in January, Discovery confirmed that the Magnolia Network would be permanently replacing DIY in October; however, the launch was delayed a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic putting a halt to filming.
A 2021 launch was later announced, but more problems arose as Magnolia struggled to meet deadlines. DIY officially relaunched as Magnolia in January 2022 after a lengthy wait; mere days later, one of its launch series, “Home Work”, was removed from the network until a thorough investigation was carried out on the show’s hosts, Andrew and Candis Meredith, which found that the couple, who had bene accused of outrageous delays and shoddy work on previous projects, had no “ill or malicious” intents.
Discovery Inc. merged with WarnerMedia to form Warner Bros. Discovery in April 2022. Four months later, it was reported that some Magnolia Network shows would be available to stream on HBO Max.
— Joanna Gaines (@joannagaines) November 8, 2019
Chip and Joanna
Chip and Joanna Gaines became famous thanks to “Fixer Upper”, one of HGTV’s most-loved lifestyle reality shows, but they were already somewhat known in the industry, thanks to their home renovation and redecoration business.
Chip was born in November 1974 in New Mexico, USA, and raised by Bob and Gayle Gaines alongside his sister Sharon, with whom he shares a close bond. Before becoming a small-screen celebrity, Chip studied at the Hankamer School of Business.
His wife, Joanna, is a Wichita, Kansas native, the daughter of Jerry and Nan Stevens. The Korean and Lebanese-German descended entrepreneur was born in April 1978, and has two sisters, Teresa and Mary Kay. Joanna obtained a communications degree from the prestigious Baylor University, from where Chip had graduated in 1998 with a marketing and business administration degree; however, their paths wouldn’t cross until later on.
Chip and Joanna first met in 2001, when Chip visited her father’s automotive shop. Although Joanna wasn’t in the store that day, Chip caught a glimpse of the brunette beauty in a family photo that was on display in the shop, and immediately fell head over heels. After visiting the shop over and over again in the hopes of meeting Joanna, Chip finally struck up a connection with her one day while she was helping out in the office.
After being an hour and a half late for their first date, and not providing an explanation, Chip went months without talking to Joanna again, as he had a bet with a friend to see who could go the longest without calling their date back – Joanna then had to cancel their second date to undergo a microdiscectomy operation. Even so, the fledgling couple persevered, and Chip asked Joanna to marry him after a year of steady dating.
Chip and Joanna’s big day was celebrated at Earle Harrison House mansion, then as soon as they returned from their honeymoon, the business-orientated couple began renovating their first project home, with Chip overseeing construction work and Joanna taking care of interior décor and other finishing touches. Luckily, the newlyweds found that they made an incredible team.
Chip and Joanna – Business Ventures
In October 2003, Chip and Joanna opened their first retail store – The Magnolia Market. For Joanna, this was a dream come true, as it had been one of her personal goals for years. In the next few years, the couple would also welcome four children named Drake, Ella Rose, Duke and Emmie Kay.
The Magnolia Market business closed in 2005, for the building to become the business headquarters for Magnolia Homes, Chip and Joanna’s next big project. Although some couples would find it a nightmare to spend so much time in each other’s company, Chip and Joanna claim that their solid marriage is made even stronger by their working together.
Magnolia Market reopened in 2015, and reached its peak in 2016 with up to 35,000 weekly visitors. The new and improved commercial center had something to suit all tastes, from restaurants and bakeries to home décor shops and other stores. The year was one of Chip and Joanna’s best, as they published their first joint book and the first issue of their lifestyle magazine The Magnolia Journal, opened The Magnolia House bed-and-breakfast, and launched a paint colors, wallpaper designs, and furniture line.
In 2017, it was confirmed that season five of “Fixer Upper” would be its last. Chip and Joanna wrote a joint blog post explaining that they wished to dedicate more time to their children and business ventures; it doesn’t help that months prior, there were rumors of trouble in paradise, and a possible divorce on the cards for the entrepreneurs. However, shortly after leaving “Fixer Upper”, and totally ignoring the rumors, Chip and Joanna launched Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, a home and lifestyle collaboration with Target.
January 2018 brought big news, as Joanna announced that she was pregnant again. However, the Kansas native didn’t slow down on the work front, as just a month later they opened their new breakfast and brunch restaurant, Magnolia Table. While juggling their many responsibilities, Joanna and Chip welcomed Crew, their third son who arrived two and a half weeks early. Meanwhile, “Fixer Upper” fanatics received good news in August 2020, upon learning that their favorite series would soon be available to watch on Magnolia Network.
That’s not to say that Chip and Joanna have kept their brand completely scandal-free over the years. Despite being image-conscious individuals, the couple have come under fire on a couple of occasions, most notably when news outlets reported that the pastor of their church promoted sexual orientation conversion therapy, and had homophobic views.
Despite releasing a statement in which they denied discriminating against LGBT individuals, Chip and Joanna have been plagued by accusations of racism and homophobia ever since, so addressed the incident yet again in a 2021 interview. “As an American white male, it’s hard to be perfectly diverse,” Chip pointed out. “In our own company, we’ve got nearly 700 employees, and one of our biggest passions is making this group represent all people.”
Meanwhile, Joanna – who reportedly teared up during the interview – said: “The accusations that get thrown at you… that’s the stuff that really eats my lunch, because it’s so far from who we really are.” Perhaps to prove naysayers wrong, Chip and Joanna have made sure to include people from all walks of lives in Magnolia Network, such as Brian Patrick Flynn, the openly gay host of one of the network’s flagship series.
Previously, the couple were also accused of deceiving participants of “Fixer Upper” who were unhappy with the final results. One such participant named Kelly Downs put Magnolia Realty on blast, and complained about the noise in Waco, where filming takes place. Apart from claiming to feel harassed and intimidated in the neighborhood, Kelly shared that a drunk driver had driven through the front window of her house.
Kelly’s interview didn’t gain much traction, as most homes on “Fixer Upper” are picked out by participants before filming commences. Even so, Chip and Joanna have been blamed for turning the city of Waco into a tourist attraction, which has come with a whole host of problems such as rising home prices, parking issues, and local tax hikes. With the revival of “Fixer Upper”, it remains to be seen if these problems will worsen with time.