The Twelve-week Turning Intensive students recently learned to turn bowls using wet wood. Unlike kiln dried wood, which produces flaky chips when turned, wet wood releases long, aromatic ribbons as it's cut into. With turning instructor Beth Ireland around, wet bowl turning means one thing: time to fire up the smoker. The bowl shavings are perfect for smoking meat, and from what I can tell, Beth's meat-smoking skill rivals that of her turning. She and her students invited the rest of campus over to the turning studio to indulge. The impromptu potluck was exactly what we all needed to get our minds off the cold - but beautiful - winter.
Beauty + Utility = BEAUTILITY
The current show at the Messler Gallery is unlike any previous show at the school. "Beautility" is a collection of non-furniture objects, made at least in part with wood, that exemplify both pragmatic utilitarianism and aesthetic flair. For the full description of the show, click here.
During the final week of the fall Twelve-week Furniture Intensive, the students worked with focused determination, attempting to finish their pieces before showing them off to the rest of campus on their last day. Although there were some taped-on doors, some missing feet, and some strategically placed clamps still holding things together, the work was nonetheless impressive. This group of students had a special energy and camaraderie. Their playful enthusiasm emanated through their designs, which highlighted their unique personalities as individuals, but also their harmony as a group.
Each summer, the two-week Curvature Workshop always produces some of the most diverse and interesting projects on campus. By exploring the processes of lamination and steam bending, among other techniques, students are able to push the sculptural potential of wood.
To hear intructor Tom Kealy talk more about the course, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-82oPmIdZgY&feature=youtu.be
Veneer has been stigmatized as a fake, cheap way to make man-made goods look like wood. For many, the word elicits a sense of superficiality, even deception. It occupies the same space as laminate floors and formica countertops. In the world of fine furniture making, however, veneer implies complexity, beauty, laborious craftsmanship, and freedom. The use of veneer allows a woodworker to abandon the engineering constraints of wood movement, expanding design possibilities exponentially.
During the two-week Discovering Veneer workshop, students explored the copious design potential of working with veneer, with the guidance of Craig Stevens and Aaron Fedarko.
Design Studio was one of the new course offerings this year, and the one-week workshop proved to be a great success. Taught by Asher Dunn, a furniture and lighting designer based in Providence, RI, the course focused on the critical first steps for designing furniture for production, as well as the importance of research and market awareness.
Rather than pushing to create a finished piece, students developed many iterations of a single design, both on paper and though model-making. By bringing in a dynamic new instructor and stimulating conversation about the relationship between woodworking and industrial design, this production-centric course was a fantastic compliment to the other, more traditional woodworking courses taking place on campus.
In my experience, woodworkers tend to have a host of mixed feelings about finishing, apathy rarely being one of them. The right finish, applied in the right way, can transform a nice piece of furniture into one that sparkles with polished beauty. On the other hand, the wrong finish can create undesirable color, texture, sheen, and more, potentially detracting from even the finest craftsmanship. Harnessing the potential of the endless spectrum of finishes is an overwhelming task which one could pursue for a lifetime. Luckily for students at the Center, we have an expert in our midst. Teri Masaschi is a professional finisher and restorer from New Mexico, with extensive experience teaching techniques ranging from traditional hand-applied finishes to cutting-edge spray technology.