September 2023 – After graduating with a degree in Film and Chinese from Vassar College in 2004, Brendan Yi Fu Tay spent many years seeking the perfect creative outlet. “I started out in documentary film, moved on to feature animation, swung a hard left into boutique confectionary, technologies education, and of course, space suit fabrication. I finally felt like I was getting somewhere when I landed in puppet and prop building for film, television, and theater in New York City.” Brendan took the 2014 Basic Woodworking workshop hoping to help supplement his woodworking knowledge, but never expected to become a full-time woodworker as a result of it.
The following year, Brendan attended the Nine-month Comprehensive, and later the eight-week Turning Intensive. Over the years Brendan has also been a Workshop Assistant. “I am so happy to have picked up a wider set of criteria to consider when making functional art, all the while learning to keep myself safe, and finally finding my favorite creative outlet.” Through the Center, Brendan found his vocation and decided to put his entertainment industry work to the side and pursue a career in woodworking.
Since Brendan’s time at CFC, he has started setting up shop in his parents’ barn and developed an interest in modern Windsor-style construction and small turned objects. “I am motivated to create beautiful, functional art that hopefully makes people chuckle to themselves.” He also finds motivation and inspiration from the local community of woodworkers, often taking on overflow work from others in the Hudson Valley and help friends with milling downed trees.
Over the years Brendan has had a couple pieces exhibited at the Gallery at Somes Sound and the Wharton Esherick Museum. “A decade ago, you could not pay me to care about how an armoire is constructed. Now I’m that weirdo staring into space, debating a one-degree difference in the rake and splay of a new stool or crawling around on the floor trying to look under a bit of furniture.”
In regards to the kind of work Brendan hopes to build now and into the future, “I will be spending a lot of time making chairs, tables, small case pieces, turned objects and returning to some marionette-making.”