October 2023 – After taking a two week course in furniture making at the California College of Art, Karina Steele fell in love with the design process in combination with the hands-on qualities of woodworking. Looking to further her skills, Karina attended the Furniture Intensive in 2011, followed by a three month fellowship, then the Nine-month Comprehensive in 2012. In the following years she also assisted two workshops and did another month-long stint in the Fellowship program. “I learned so much at the CFC from basic to obscure woodworking skills, how to design, as well as seeing a range of work created by everyone else on campus from other teachers, students or fellows.”
Venturing on to pursue a career in woodworking, Karina found it to be an evolution of “out of school idealism to real world practicality.” She started out very small, working out of her garage with just a bandsaw and a spokeshave, making small kitchen utensils. She spent a few years doing craft fairs, setting up her website for selling online, as well as taking advantage of social media to build an audience. “Although these years were not an economic landslide, it taught me so much about selling as a one-person operation, interacting with your market audience, and building a small business.”
After a few years Karina started brainstorming other things she could create. Noticing a trend of artistic wall hangings, she set out to make her own version out of pattern-cut steam-bent pieces of ash. The idea stemmed from her ‘multiples’ project during the Nine-month Comprehensive which she developed further in a stint in the Fellowship program, learning CNC operation and CAD design.
Now Karina focuses solely on sculptural wall hangings. “It has grown from this little seed of an idea to large scale sculptures in hotels, several projects for commercial art curators, both individual and group shows in galleries in the Northeast, private commissions, as well as smaller pieces that I occasionally sell online.” Karina has found enjoyment through the process of making and the many facets of running a small business.