Tag Archives: women of woodworking

Women of Woodworking – Vanessa Johnston, South Queensferry, Edinburgh, Scotland

15 Jun

IMG_2844Vanessa 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.

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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.

IMG_2850.JPGIn 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.

To view more of Vanessa’s work or get in touch:

http://vanessa.io
@vanessawoodworking

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Women of Woodworking – Kate Duncan, Vancouver, BC, Canada

31 May

Kate Duncan is pretty straight forward. It shows through the clear and clean lines in her work, and even in sharing her story, she sticks to the elements of what works and what doesn’t.Debra Collection.2016.17

She describes her woodworking background in plain terms. She started woodworking in her 7th grade shop class, and now works out of her studio in Vancouver, BC.

Kate’s modern collections are constructed using traditional joinery. Her designs feature luxurious accents such as elegant hardware selections or fluid pairings with mellow leather upholstery. Each collection is gracefully named in a playful juxtaposition to it’s defined forms.

When it comes to tools, Kate likes “Chisels. Sharp ones.”

Heather Bed.2016.7

She draws artistic inspiration from The High Line in New York City.

Kate’s current projects include protyping a new dining room table design. “It’s very fashion forward… I’m experimenting with a few new techniques.”

 
To view more of Kate’s work or get in touch:

http://kateduncan.ca
@kateduncandesign

Women of Woodworking – Danielle Rose Byrd, Bar Harbor, Maine

8 May

IMG_0712Danielle Rose Byrd is a woodcarver who enjoys making bowls, spoons, shrink pots and other utensils. Much like the craft of woodworking itself, there is a welcoming feel to Danielle’s work. Aside from the obvious functionality of kitchenware as a sharing or serving piece, her work is comprehensible. Forms are crafted to please the eye with layers of texture to tease the mind and incite the urge to touch.

Danielle is originally from Maine and has spent almost her entire life there. Her father was a carpenter, and growing up “I got a good dose of hammer swinging,” she says.

IMG_0713She started woodworking in college, and has been professionally for the past six or seven years. Her favorite tool is “A scary-sharp gouge. Or anything sharp that happens to be
within arm’s reach just when I want it. Nothing beats that,” she explains.

Her recent focus has been on bowls. “I’ve been swinging between the extremes of refined, simple forms and rough, wild, and impulsive forms. I like a good mix. I’ve also been working on some angular, large facet shrink pots with those fat lids I like.”

While Danielle is known for her hand carving technique, she is not afraid to explore new horizons and utilize what is discovered in her development of new work. “I recently got a turbo plane power carving disc, and I’m excited to see what comes of that. I love hand tools, but power carving intrigues me,” she explains.IMG_0714

“I find that when I indulge in my interests, even if it doesn’t materialize as something I intend on selling, it usually helps to inform other work in a beneficial way. Sometimes I just have to scratch the itch and that’s enough to inspire me elsewhere.”

Danielle’s work will be on display at Island Artisans gallery in Bar Harbor this summer. To view more of her work or get in touch:

daniellerosebyrd.com
daniellerosebyrd@gmail.com
@danielle_rose_byrd

Women of Woodworking – Meredith Hart, Durham, North Carolina

26 Apr

IMG_0519When asked, Meredith Hart will tell you she meandered into woodworking. Her background is in art and design, and after college she moved to Vermont to take classes at Yestermorrow Design/Build School. She just so happened to really love the ladder back chair and box making classes. Then, she applied to the North Bennet Street School in Boston, which is where she claims to have really made her start.

Taking a look at Hart’s work, albeit from a distance, it’s hard to believe she aimlessly drifted into something that she has such a natural aptitude for. Her work pairs the restraint of classical styles with modern shapes. Pieces appear to be practical, almost sensible, but a dashing undertone shines through in the details. A seemingly simple table may feature proud, hidden carvings under the top’s edges or crisp, faceted stretchers. IMG_0521

Like a reflection of her own journey into the craft, there is a bit of enchantment in her work that can only be seen if you look closely enough.

Hart is currently working on a commissioned design for a leather top desk that will include brass lion’s feet. A touch of other elements such as metal or glass is another signature in Hart’s balanced compositions.

“I don’t think I’ll ever have a custom project that doesn’t require me to learn something new. That’s what keeps it interesting,” she says.IMG_0520

Her favorite piece of art is Wharton Esherick’s woodcut “Swing.” “With just a few simple cuts the image depicts the pull of gravity and rush of wind in a way that you can almost feel it,” she describes.

Her favorite tool is her Stanley 71 1/2 router plane she acquired while in school in New Hampshire. She now resides in Durham, North Carolina, where she enjoys living between the coast and the mountains.

 

 

To view more of Meredith’s work or get in touch:

MeredithHartFurniture.com
Meredith@MeredithHartFurniture.com
@MeredithHartFurniture

Women of Woodworking Reworked

24 Apr

Recently I received yet another inquiry asking if I could connect a business with a woman woodworker for a potential project. They found my information through my website, specifically my own Women of Woodworking project. It was a long shot for them to reach out but in the end, we were able to get them connected with someone.

Over the past few years I have had to pause this project, with the hopes to restore it and build even more of what has already continued to grow in my absence – a community for women woodworkers.

Inspired, I’ve fired up the old IG account and threw out a few posts. I’ve been blown away by the positive reception. I know now for sure I need to continue to tell the stories of the women that help make this moment in our craft such a beautiful one.

As with any prototype, Women of Woodworking is being slightly reworked from its original version to allow for more frequent posts and varied content as we move forward (including shop tours, videos, and so on). While I am exploring new possibilities and directions for the project, for now, my website ktthompson.com will continue to serve as the series’ official home, as well as our Instagram, @WomenofWoodworking.

Most importantly, I look forward to connecting more interesting people and sharing their unique stories as women in woodworking. Don’t hesitate to leave comments with your favorite crafts women, works or questions you’d like to ask. This is a dynamic community and I encourage the friendly spirit of sharing that woodworking brings out in the best of us.

Women of Woodworking – Sarah Marriage, Hoboken, NJ

28 Jan

unnamed-6Sarah Marriage didn’t always know she was meant to be a woodworker. Like most of us the craft sort of found her. In Sarah’s case it was after attending Princeton for architecture as an undergrad. Also like most of us, she yearned to actually make something. Marriage quotes architectural theorist Robin Evans as one of her main inspirations towards becoming an artist, “Architects don’t make buildings; they make drawings of buildings.”

Marriage wanted to design and make something herself using the human scale that inspired her so. She wanted to know that her materials were ethically harvested or produced and that “the other labor with whom I collaborated was treated as well as I treat myself.”

Furniture became her new focus. She moved back to Alaska, got a day job and an apartment and set up her shop in her parent’s heated garage. She didn’t know how to build furniture, but she was going to learn.

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She started off by purchasing “throw-away furniture from Anchorage thrift stores” that she would take apart and and reassemble according to her own design. Hours were spent in bookstores reading anything she could get her hands on to strengthen her knowledge. One day she picked up a book by James Krenov, and his words secured her desire to continue on with furniture making.

Marriage returned to the northeast where she resided in New York City as she worked for Guy Nordenson and Associates Structural Engineers. She then spent a year with her brother and his wife in Baltimore as they rehabilitated their 19th century town home. She also applied to the College of the Redwoods during this time, nearly a decade after first discovering her passion for furniture making. She spent two years there in California and then headed back east where she now shares a shop in Hoboken, NJ with other talented makers, including Thomas Hucker and cuddly Frank the shop cat.

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Marriage pointed out that “in any zone, it seems people have different expectations of men and women,” but also mentioned the different paths that are often taken between the sexes within the craft. “A lot of female woodworkers, including myself, came into our field through art and design education. The traditional pathway to furniture maker, beginning as unskilled labor and working one’s way up through the field to master woodworker: this is typically (not always but typically) a path unavailable to women,” noting that the number of women in the field who started in the traditional shop route are much lower than women who went the academic route.

“Gender isn’t an issue,” says Marriage when she is in the shop or at a school. In other realms of the industry, perhaps a lumber yard, treatment can be much different. “Two weeks ago I went to a new lumber place with another female furniture maker. The first person who interacted with us, as we walked into the yard said “Woah woah where are you goin’?,” thinking we were lost.”

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She also isn’t afraid to point out that she does accept the extra help when needed, “I have a bad back, and will take as much help as I can when it comes to lifting large planks, but beyond that the help is usually unnecessary, and wouldn’t be offered to a man, and at the end of the day I just want to be treated like the competent woodworker who I am.”

Despite a few negatives encounters over the years Marriage feels like her experiences have been beneficial and mostly for the better. “Over all, I think that I have been lucky. I’ve had predominantly positive experiences. I’ve been put in a handful of rather uncomfortable situations, but I’ve never had anyone actively work against me because of my gender, and often I find that there are strong advocates out there in the world for women woodworkers. We’re also pretty good at sticking together.”

While Marriage doesn’t feel like she currently explores gender within her own art, she is interested in expanding ideas of how we determine the gender roles we try to assign within the styles of our work. “I find it fascinating when I am showing my work in a public setting, like an exhibition opening, that people will discuss the furniture itself in gender terms. ‘That’s beautiful, but that wouldn’t work for me… it’s a lady’s desk, right?’ These kinds of comments happen a lot. People seem to seek out gender in objects (‘is this a his-and-hers set?’), and I encourage broadening those expectations (‘it could be his-and-hers, or hers-and-hers, or his-and-his, or just completely unpaired!’).”

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For the future of women in woodworking Marriage thinks growth, reflection, and hard work are the key. “I would like to see more female woodworkers. To me, that’s the crux” she says. “If there were more female woodworkers the field would be more welcoming to female woodworkers. Of course that’s a chicken-egg situation, so I think the next steps are about both encouraging girls to consider pursuing our field and also looking at our own biases, our own expectations of what people are capable of or might be interested in and working to change those expectations at the same time.”

Marriage has an array of events and projects coming up. She’ll be featured at the prestigious American Craft Council Baltimore Show February 20 – 22nd as part of their HipPop program that features emerging artists. She’ll also be serving as the technical assistant to Jennifer Anderson during the “Environment as Muse” furniture course at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts this summer.

Marriage is also a writer within the craft. She is the co-editor and co-founder, along with Luke Cissell and Cara Sheffler, of Works & Days Quarterly, “an online quarterly of arts, letters, music, and no small amount of craft.” While still in school she published her essay A Call to Practice about learning to be a woodworker.

You can find Sarah Marriage on Instagram at @sarah_marriage or on Facebook too. You can also visit her website at sarahmarriage.com

View the landing page and other interviews for the Women of Woodworking series here.