Vincent Quattrocchi holds one of his favorite recent creations, a birdhouse with a winding staircase constructed from discs cut from a lilac bush. He will have as many as 60 different models available for purchase during the Susquehanna County Artists’ Open House Weekend, Oct. 8 to 10.
Story and photos by Rick Hiduk
(originally published in the Susquehanna County Independent)
The 26th Susquehanna County Artists’ Open House Weekend will be held Saturday through Monday, Oct. 8 to 10 and will feature 22 artists at 15 locations that exhibit the varied pallet of artisans in the region. Some have been part of the self-guided tour since its inception while others, like Vincent Quattrocchi of Montrose, is participating for just his second year.
Quattrocchi’s offerings follow a single genre – whimsical birdhouses – but the variety of the pieces that he will have ready for purchase correctly suggests that the wood worker is not as new at his craft as his relatively fresh status as a featured artist would suggest.
Quattrocchi was a designer and builder of homes in Susquehanna County and New York’s southern tier for over 47 years, completing 30 houses by the time he reached 73 last year. He grew up in Deposit, NY, and served for four years as a carpenter’s apprentice in Manhattan. He had a fondness for the landscape and people of Montrose and moved there about 50 years ago to raise three daughters who graduated from Montrose High School.
One day, he was approached by a property owner who was having trouble finding someone to build a timber frame for him, so he took a giant step in that direction. “It was pretty non-stop ever since,” Quattrocchi remarked. He still does some remodeling and tile work but, upon completion of his last house in Dimock, he considered retirement.
With one of his daughter’s birthdays approaching, Quattrocchi decided to build her a birdhouse, but he wanted it to be a “funny” birdhouse. “One of her friends saw it and wanted one,” he related. “It just blossomed from there. I had no expectation that it would turn into this.” He has since conceived and constructed more than 200 birdhouses.
Quattrocchi’s style is hard to pin down. The distortions that he routinely employs could be considered equal parts cubism, hyper realism, or even anamorphosis. The unusual shapes, colors and embellishments are products of his self-described “wild imagination.”
“The people who know me will understand what that means,” he stated. “I did some pretty flipped out things in houses too.”
Quattrocchi works with a variety of woods, including Spanish cedar, mahogany, cherry, ash, cypress, eucalyptus, and black walnut. Each has hinged clean-out doors and a uniquely “fire-painted” copper roof. Despite the varied sizes and shapes of the birdhouses, the living chambers and apertures are of a consistent size to attract smaller birds like chickadees, bluebirds and wrens. He scores the interior walls of the living chamber from the floor to the aperture so the chicks can reach the openings to fledge.
“They are built to be outside,” he explained, noting though that most buyers do not expose them to the elements. With four coats of polyurethane and the copper roofs, which are also seal-coated, Quattrocchi said, “They’ll last quite awhile outside.” Every birdhouse is signed and dated.
He had 35 pieces ready for the Open House Weekend in 2021 and sold them all in a day and a half, which led to orders for 53 more. He plans to have 60 ready for this year’s event, but Quattrocchi is changing his business model a bit.
“I’m not taking orders anymore,” he explained. “I’m going to take names and numbers and, when I build up enough stock, I’ll invite them here to see what I have.”
The reason is simple. Custom orders also generally meant custom designs, and it wasn’t fun anymore. “I was building to suit other people’s imaginations,” Quattrocchi remarked. “That took a lot of it out of it for me.”
While common rural themes like barns and country churches inspire some of his pieces, one shouldn’t be surprised by the occasional rocket ship (above, center), a motif that may be overt or hidden among stars and moons on the faces of the houses. Quattrocchi started experimenting with discs cut from a lilac bush and found staircases to be an easy and popular add-on. He learned that he gets better color out of the copper when he works it on low humidity days. Then he dabbles with “secret” ingredients like plant fertilizer and ammonia to modify the hue.
On average, it takes seven to eight hours to complete a birdhouse, which he sells for $100 to $150 each. This past spring, he took top honors in the first birdhouse building contest sponsored by Binghamton Parks and Recreation.
Fans of his work have approached Quattrocchi to show them how to do what he does, but he humbly sloughs off the inquiries. “If you know anything about wood and how to work with it – and have a crazy mind – you can do it,” he maintains. Quattrocchi also appreciates the solitude of his shop in the woods. “When I start making them, everything else stops. It’s very relaxing. I really enjoy them.”
Quattrocchi’s studio is located at 553 Conrad Road, just over two miles north of Montrose off Chenango Street. All of the stops on the Artists’ Open House Weekend will be open from 10 am to 5 pm each day. For more information, interested readers can log on to www.artiststour.com
I am definitely interested in buying a birdhouse. I was blown away with your art and wood working talent. Please keep me in mind if you have any for sale.
Vincent communicates mostly through his Facebook page.
How can we get in touch with Vinnie?
Vincent communicates mostly through his Facebook page.
I am interested in buying a couple bird houses.I absolutely love your unique styles. Please let me know where I can go to buy them. Thank you.