Lennart Van Uffelen – Tafel.01

Tafel.01 by Lennart Van Uffelen

Artist Name:  Lennart Van Uffelen
Title:  Tafel.01
Details:  circa 2011 – Ash, Stainless Steel, 120cm L x 80cm W x 75cm H

Why It’s Notable:

Somebody once asked me how to be artistic.  My suggestion was to start with something functional, then add or remove from it until you are done.  By replacing one leg with an axe, this piece remains functional, yet is transformed into a work of art!

Stephen Gleasner – There You Are

There You Are by Stephen Gleasner

Artist Name:  Stephen Gleasner
Title:  There You Are
Details:  circa 2010 – Plywood, 30″ x 48″

Why It’s Notable:

While most woodworkers try to hide the layers of plywood, Stephen Gleasner embraces them.  He carves into the face of plywood to reveal patterns reminiscent of a topographic map, then applies dyes to the surface to enhance the design.

Jon Siegel – Elliptori

Elliptori by Jon Siegel

Artist Name:  Jon Siegel
Title:  Elliptori
Details:  circa 2001 – mahogany, glass 56″ wide x 26″ deep x 16″tall

Why It’s Notable:

I like the design, but to me, what is most notable is the process used to make the base.  Instead of laminating the rough shape, then refining it with carving tools, planes, and sanders, Jon Siegel took another approach.

“When I make the turning, which is 4′ in diameter, I am only making 1/2 of the profile, and the back is flat.  Then the ring is cut in half along the diameter and “folded” and glued together to make one table.  This method has two advantages:  it is easy to mount the work on a face plate because the back is flat, and it assures that the form is symmetrical.”

How did Jon develop the process of making the base?

“I never had a drawing of this table – the idea went from my brain directly to a scale model made on the lathe.  My first experiments were in doll-house scale (1:12).  Then when I thought I had the proportions right, I jumped up to 1/4 size scale.  From that model, I measured how I was going to glue up the blank in three layers – three band sawn rings were stacked and glued up.  About a year after I made it I realized that somewhere in the back of my mind I was probably inspired by the work of Stephen Hogbin that I had seen 25 years earlier!”

The glass top makes the table functional without hindering the view of the unique cross-section of the base.  Very interesting!

For the curious, this is the lathe Jon used to turn the table’s base.

Jon Siegel’s Putnam Lathe

“Restoring 100 year old machinery (both woodworking and metal working) is a passion of mine – especially lathes.  The lathe was made in Fitchburg, Massachusetts by Putnam who made mostly metal lathes, but they also made some of these pattern maker’s lathes.  These are woodworking lathes that have a carriage.  This type of bed was used on their metal lathes too, which is why they are so heavy.  But the headstock and carriage are greatly simplified from their metal working cousins.  This type of bed is called ‘extension bed’, and by turning the large handwheel that you can see below the bed, the upper half of the bed slides away revealing the large ‘gap’ which is thus adjustable in width for the particular job at hand.  Of course this also extends the length of the bed when needed, hence the name.  It extends to allow 12′ workpiece length.  It swings 24″ over the bed and 50″ in the gap.  I used this lathe to make ‘Elliptori’.  The rough blank weighed over 100 pounds, and the finished turning about 70 pounds.  Work of this size is turned at about 120 rpm (2 revolutions per second).  The largest piece I have turned on this lathe weighed 500 pounds, and it handled it easily because that is only 10% of the weight of the machine.”

I’d like to extend a “thank you” to Jon Siegel for his help writing this article.  Jon has been turning for over 45 years.  He co-founded Big Tree Turnings, LLC., and is a member of the Guild of New Hampshire WoodworkersNew Hampshire Furniture Masters Association, and president of Granite State Woodturners (a chapter of the American Association of Woodturners).

Secret Carpentry by Maskull Lasserre

Secret Carpentry by Maskull Lasserre

Artist Name:  Maskull Lasserre
Title:  Secret Carpentry
Details:  circa 2011 – 26″ x 6″ x 2″

Why It’s Notable:

An axe, to most people, is an unremarkable object – just an axe.  However, if you take any item and embellish it, it becomes more distinct and meaningful.  This piece reminds me that anything has the potential to be a work of art.

Kino Guérin – Why Knot

Why Knot by Kino Gurin

Artist Name:  Kino Guérin
Title:  Why Knot
Details:  circa 2011 – Smoked Oak Plywood, 58″ x 28″ x 28″

Why It’s Notable:

When I think of plywood, I think of flat sheets that are good for building cabinets.  I might consider bending and laminating plywood to create a moderate curve for the top of a chest or a round furniture part, but form the plywood into a knot?  How this piece was made is not apparent.

The sharp contrast between the smoked oak faces and light-coloured edge is also nice.

Christy Oates – Crab Desk

Crab Desk by Christy Oates

Artist Name:  Christy Oates
Title:  Crab Desk
Details:  circa 2009  –  Plywood, maple veneer, steel hinges, acrylic paint, wood dyes
Flat:  48″W x 35″H x 1-1/4″T
Opened:  48″L x 14″W x 35″H (Desk) and 13″L x 13″W x 17-1/2″H (Stool)

Why It’s Notable:

This piece merges wall art with furniture and takes collapsible furniture to a new level.  A few folds and flips transform a picture of a desk into an actual working desk complete with a stool.  When not needed, both the desk and stool disappear into the wall.

Graft Lab – Phantom

Phantom by Graft

Artist Name:  Graft Lab
Title:  Phantom
Details:  3.00m x 1.20m x 0.75m (approximately 9′-10-1/8″ x 47-1/4″ x 29.5″) circa 2010.  Made of “Carbon- or glass fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP/GFRP)” which is “no thicker than 5-6 mm”.  (Information provided by the stilwerk limited edition design gallery.)

Why It’s Notable:

Impossible is simply a challenge for the free-thinking.  That’s my way of thinking, anyhow and I’m always looking for ways to push the envelope.  Defying gravity (visually, at least) is one way to push the limits.  By extending the “tablecloth” down to the ground and eliminating legs, this table appears to float.

PS:  Nana, who works for the stilwerk limited edition design gallery informed me that Brad Pitt recently bought one of the nine tables made.

100 Bowls

Although 100 Bowls has no affiliation with the fabulous and inspiring Lark Books’ 500 Series, I think that the idea of making one bowl each day for one hundred days is very interesting and I’m looking forwards to seeing a new bowl in my inbox every day.

What, you ask, is “100 Bowls?”  In a nutshell, 100 Bowls is a challenge concocted by Houston artists Renee LeBlanc and Clark Kellogg.  The idea is for each artist to produce one hundred bowls over the course of one hundred days.  The completed bowls will then be donated to Empty Bowls Houston, an annual event supporting the Houston Food Bank.

This year Empty Bowls will be held on May 26, 2012, at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.  Artists participating in the Challenge include Steve Campbell, Clark Kellogg, Renee LeBlanc, and Mak Taing.  Stay tuned for entries from these four brave gluttons for punishment as we count down towards May…

– Clark Kellogg

So far, the first three are of wood and of a very similar shape.  Will the shapes evolve or morph?  Will other mediums be used?  What kind of experimentation will we see?  We will only find out as each new day arrives.

Click HERE to see the bowls by Clark Kellogg and company.

Flashback: A Unique Way to Wrap Presents

There’s less than a week left until Christmas, so of course you’ve got all your gifts ready to be wrapped, right?

Wrapped Gifts with Poplar Ribbon and Bow

Last year, I discovered a new way to decorate the wrapped package – wood shavings!  Read the original post HERE.

Poplar Bow

Christmas Gift Ideas

I love making gifts.  I really do.  I was raised to believe that anything hand-made will always have more meaning than something store-bought.  While there may or may not be a capital investment for materials, the real investment is the time and thought to develop and produce the item.  For me, making gifts is a fantastic opportunity to explore processes, designs and materials.

Balancing wine bottle holders are a simple gift for the wine-lover.  Give one with a bottle of wine but without any documentation and see how long it takes the recipient to figure out what it’s for.

Balancing Wine Bottle Holders by Tim Charles

Turned items can be quick and are also often practical.  Pens and pencils are always popular.  For that extra-special someone, consider making a box for a pen-and-pencil set.

Pens and Pen Box by Mike Bardell

Paperweights are probably the most unrestrictive things you can make.  Use your imagination.  A small paperweight can double as a playing piece for a board game.

Paperweight/Playing Piece by Chris Wong

Cutting boards can be as simple as a single board planed smooth, or as complex as you can dream.  Every household needs at least one good, wooden cutting board.

Cutting Boards by Larry Maykin

Looking for something a little more obscure but still fairly quick?  Last year, I scrolled Diamond Challenge, a 65-piece puzzle.  This one will keep anyone occupied for hours.

Diamond Challenge by Chris Wong

If you have a little more time, a cribbage board is a fun, practical gift.  (Okay, it’s more fun to use than to make and you’ll want to have a drill press for one of these!)  If you choose a simpler design, you can easily make one in a day.  There isn’t much better than a gift that forces people to sit down for a while and just have some fun and enjoy each other’s company.

Live-Edge Cribbage Board by Chris Wong

Regardless of what you make, take an extra few minutes and add value by embellishing the item with a little carving, paint, or pyrography.  The idea is to make it unique and personalized.  I like to use an engraver to dedicate the project to the recipient.  And of course, I sign my name too.

In the age where so much of our surrounding environment is mass-produced, who wouldn’t like something unique, made just for them?

(Last year, I wrote a similar post HERE.)