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German Pastora Zeledon is fluent in three languages, but it is through his exquisite wood-work that he expresses himself most elo­quently. Specializing in hand carved furniture, Pastora creates custom pieces for every taste and style of decor.

Born in Nicaragua, Pastora was 12 years old when he began to learn his trade, working in small woodworking shops as an apprentice. Since there were no formal courses of study, his desire to learn, coupled with the gift of natural talent, allowed him to tackle increasingly challenging projects. Pastora came torecognize excellence, art and beauty as the key elements in hand carved furniture and his ability was recognized in his native country.

Arriving in Winnipeg in 1983, the artisan was initial­ly employed at a kitchen cabinet shop, then moved on to work at Whitehorse Furniture as a craftsman doing special orders before establishing Pastora Custom Furniture in 1988. His reputation as a hand carved custom furniture builder is well known due to his expertise and willingness to tackle any project in wood. For those whowant handcrafted furniture that will stand apart from the rest. Pastora Custom Furniture is the place to go.

As an artisan, Pastora finishes a custom piece in his head before he starts, and at the same time, gets to know his customers to determine their personalities and individual styles, as well as their needs. His approach applies to every item he creates. Pastora's range includes standard pieces like armoires, complete bedroom and dining room sets, entertainment units and more uncommon projects like church altars, rockingchairs and family crests sculpted in wood.

Whatever the job, Pastora takes his business seriously, emphasizing that it is not a hobby: "You have to be passionate, sensitive and romantic to do the work that I do." he insists.

Pastora's East St. Paul shop is modest, but the one-of-a-kind pieces created within arc masterpieces. Mounted ontop of two solid cherry wood pedestals, a boardroom table made for a prominent Winnipeg businessman boasts a spectacular table top inlaid withvarious woods. The pedestal bases are carvedto resemble huge bundles of bamboo. For a large financial firm, Pastora sculpted an impressive, three-dimensional plaque in cherry wood appropriately featuring a bull and bear in combat. The more menacing parts of the beasts - the bear's claws and fangs and the bull's horns - become the focal point since they are deliberately left natural in colour to contrast starkly withthe dark wood.


When it comes to the unique, clients are confident that Pastora will meet their requests while complementing everything from their personality to their decor. For instance, Pastora was once asked to design a set of furniture with a nautical motif - the result was a land-locked captain's delight. The set included a leather-covered sofa, ropes hand carved along its oak base and uncoiling up the arms, and a carved compass table. Pastora was approached by the parents of six children who wanted a dining room table that would not just accommodate their large clan, but also identify each family member's place - a very sentimental piece, according to the artisan. The 12-foot-long table with an engraved gardenia at every seat delighted its owners.

Pastora can also duplicate any style of furniture, from the more ornate Louis XV to modern classics. His ability to match a style is a godsend for people who wantto add or replace a piece of fur­niture that is part of a set, whether new or antique.

"When a customer sees the new chairs look like the 90-year-old originals, they are amazed," Pastora comments. Working side by side with his son, German Isaac, Pastora refers tongue in cheek to his own style as "German the First."


Pastora also specializes in renovations, particularly solid wood enhancements. Using solid cherry wood, he recently designed and constructed a front entrance and foyer for a Winnipeg home-owner. Pastora's craftsmanship is apparent everywhere. From the mouldings to the front door, everything is hand carved. "When you touch the wood, even your hands should feel impressed," he notes.


Whether a style is bold or refined, Pastora's goal is to make his client's home or office a beautiful place. "I treat customers as friends and I take every job personally," he says. Many satisfied customers return for more, once Pastora has put a piece in their living or working space. "I hear this all the time: German, you started in one room, now you have to finish the rest."

By Leigh Patterson, Style Manitoba