Born in rural Indiana, I found peace as a child while wandering under the tall trees and climbing high among their branches. Woodworking is my way to stay connected with that feeling of being small beneath the giants. While we all live in this fast-paced, hyper-connected world, I believe that having beautiful furniture and art made from trees is a small way to stay connected to the natural world.
The greatness of woodworking is that no matter how beautiful of a piece I create, I am always climbing to reach the shoulders of the giants who came before me. Wooden chairs have existed for thousands of years, the mortise and tenon (the hallmark of the highest quality furniture) has been around just as long. All of our troubles as modern woodworkers were the same troubles plaguing the Chinese who crafted their homes without fasteners so that the wood could expand and contract with the passage of seasons.
While this history seems ancient, many times our wood is just as old. The giant Alerce tree of South America can live 4,000 years. To this day, indigenous communities harvest the fallen giants to build their homes. These individual trees were born before the first modern chair was invented. Since that time humanity has been learning, innovating, inventing, reinventing to find the perfect form, meanwhile the Alerce has been waiting for it’s death and to be reborn in the hands of a loving craftsman.
It is not clear if I have a contribution to make, or to even become a footnote in the subchapter of contemporary design in which I participate. There are many giants that have laid the path before me: George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, Frank Lloyd Wright, Hans Wegner. All I know is that wood speaks to me and I’ve always felt at home in its presence. I know that on some days, on the good days, I wake up with an image of something I must create. This image will spring forth from a particular figured board, or jump whole cloth from a design or purpose. I then set myself on a months long journey of discovering this thing that has wormed its way into my mind.
I believe that to honor these images and the death of the trees that make them possible I must reach for the most perfect craftsmanship, whether in sculpture or furniture. To take a shortcut, to make something faster instead of better, is to insult the giants that have come before me. Only when my work is as perfect as I am capable of am I willing to say goodbye and move on.