Vanessa Johnston’s journey as a fine woodworker has only just begun, and she is starting with quite a bang. She is a recent graduate of the Chippendale International School of Furniture in Edinburgh and was awarded the prestigious honor of being named the Chippendale Society’s Student of the Year.
Vanessa began woodworking at 20 when she assisted with the construction of an outdoor kitchen and a private tent site. Over time, her carpentry interests developed into a passion for fine woodworking.
“Building tables for wedding altars and my own dining areas plunged me into wanting to be able to do it well and build find things,” she explains.
Vanessa’s favorite tool is her ventilator mask, as it goes through every step of every project with her. She is inspired by a variety of art, from little sculptures her fiance’s father carved out of driftwood, to works by Rothko and Jacques Louis David.
“Gloria Petarre has a black and white oil painting called Leaves that stirs my soul… I think out of everything right now though it’s Alexander Calder’s Blue Feather. The movement in his sculptures makes me feel like I can fly,” she shares.
In her recent works, Vanessa has completed an armchair of her own design, which she describes as “loosely based on both the Sam Maloof low back chair and the Wegner Wishbone chair.” It features Scottish elm and olive ash hardwoods. She is also turning live edge bowls and platters from a green cherry tree.
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