I was a teenager when I took my first wood working class. I knew from the moment I walked into the classroom and smelled the sweet, aromatic combination of wood, glue and stains that I was home. I ended each school day with at least an hour in the shop crafting something – anything. Even at the end of the school week, I never minded that the Waterloo party bus filled with classmates going off to the Friday night football game was loudly loading up and I wasn’t on board. I wanted to stay and design, cut shave and stain whenever Mr. Dowds, our shop teacher would let me.
I couldn’t get enough. I had finally found a way into a world that seemed custom made for me. I never felt alone or solitary, just present, in the moments that wood and I worked together.
That was a few decades ago, and over the years I have let my love of woodworking lead me into fine furniture building and wood sculpting. I never look at wood as an inanimate object. I see and feel its aliveness. It speaks to me and tells me exactly what I should do with it. It may be for a furniture piece – as many kinds of wood are highly suited for heirloom furniture. It might shout out its need to be sculpted into a statue, keepsake box or even a piece of jewelry. My initial relationship with a piece of fine wood is to simply listen.
I have had many mentors during the time I’ve honed my craft. I celebrate a few of them with you through today’s blog post.
In a sense, we grew up together. I have admired Koval’s work for as long as I’ve been a woodworker myself. From his early pieces to his latest creations, his work speaks volumes of the innate connection he has with the medium. His talent for highlighting the true nature of wood and delivering its fullest expression through sculpted works is magical. He senses the particular vibration that each raw piece of wood carries. He respects the message without overpowering a piece with his own ego. By looking at his work it is undeniable that its final expression at his hand, was in the wood from the beginning and he brought it forth for all to see.
While Dominic has been an ongoing inspiration for sculpted, hand-carved pieces, others have been a guiding force in my love of fine furniture building. My shop is equipped with the best tools to build a table for 12, or a deliberately designed jewelry armoire. It’s curious how I seem to gain more friends closer to the holidays! However, since I’m scheduled out for months at a time getting the right holiday gift custom made means ordering up to a year in advance.
Amish Wood Artisans
The Amish have been a big influence on my furniture design style. They keep it simple and functional. Because of their simplicity, there is wiggle room for personal expression. I stay true to a main Amish theme with my craft, but take the liberty that every artist is privileged to enjoy, and make a piece distinctly their own. Because the furniture I build is made from reliable and beautifully grained hardwood, I am assured that because of its quality it will be handed down for many generations. I want everyone who puts their faith in one of my designs and my uncompromising professionalism to feel as if they are taking home a treasure.
Leave a comment below. I want to know more about your love affair with wood. Are you an artist, craftsman or simply an admirer of the wonderful ways of wood?