Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bandsaw Boxes: Where Have You Been All My Life?

In the past week and a half, I have had the opportunity to try my hand at some bandsaw boxes.  I completed my Wall project and had the time to try out something new.  I have had a blast making these.  Using some of the wood glued up by the Holey Knollers, I made my first box (note: these boxes are for the sale we will be having).  I decided to keep the first box fairly simple, though I cup one end at an angle and made the lid rotate on a dowel.

I lined the inside with felt to not only give it a more finished look, but also to hide some imperfections from the bandsaw.  I finished it with danish oil.

For the second box, I wanted to stretch the idea of the bandsaw box a little.  The ones I have seen have mostly either had a lid, drawer, or door.  I decided to make one that had both a lid and a drawer, so I made a combo box.

I wasn't happy with the amount of space left over in the drawer that was created by loss from the bandsaw, so I decided to create a drawer face that ran the height of the entire box, coming flush to the lid.

I had made this from leftover birch and maple from my Wall project.  While it was at this stage, I found myself unhappy with how the wood looked by itself.  I decided I wanted a high gloss, painted finish.

This is the finished product, minus some waxing to keep things from sticking.  Overall, I am really happy with these pieces and learned some things not to do and ways to troubleshoot some other issues.  I plan on continuing making bandsaw boxes, seeing what all I can do with them and how I can incorporate these into other projects.

Monday, October 13, 2014


After weeks of work, mistakes and triumphs, I finally finished my wall piece. Originally, I thought this would be done about a week earlier, but after a stupid mistake cutting my outer boxes in half, I had to restart that half of the project. This was a good learning experience for me though. The second attempt was brought back to pre-mistake status over a weekend. I was able to experiment with multiple types of finishes and used the dado in enough ways and enough times that I am about as confident in that as I could ever be.

I am looking forward to the next project and have already begun to sketch out some ideas.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Inspiration: Fred Sandback

This week, I took the time to visit the Contemporary Design gallery at the IMA.  This was my first time in the newly expanded gallery and it was great to see the different styles of furniture from the last 60 years.  And while I could take the time in this post to talk about all of the pieces that inspire me, I'm not going to.  I will write about specific pieces in the future, but for now, I want to talk about an artist who has a single piece of sculpture on display at the IMA (there used to be four pieces).  That artist is Fred Sandback.  His sculptures are deceptively simple, being constructed of simple pieces of string that are suspended and stretched throughout a space.

Untitled, 1989
The beauty of Sandback's art is the ability he has to visually make a three-dimensional object with a minimal number of lines.  These lines are specifically placed to take up a space in a particular way.

Sandback has always been an inspiration to me from an art standpoint.  On this trip to the IMA however, his work spoke to me in terms of furniture design.  A strange corollary? Maybe.  But here's what Sandback's art makes me think: No matter what you are making, and maybe especially if what you're making is furniture, you need to be 100% meaningful in how you use the space.  You need to know how your piece is going to look in a room.  This doesn't mean that you need to design an entire room around your piece of furniture, but you need to be aware of what it might look like by itself or in a group.  You also need to know what your piece is going to look like from every angle.  So, while Sandback's art might not be referential to a specific type of furniture, its use of space is the thing that I am taking away from it.





Saturday, September 6, 2014


The second week has come and gone. This was a short week thanks to Labor Day, but it didn't feel short due to the amount of reading that was due for Visual Culture (which had to be read on a computer screen). I realize the potential importance of this class, but there is something about it, and maybe it's just the language the book's author uses, that bugs me. I have spent the greater part of the last 15 years arguing against the elitism that is all too common in the art world. There are aspects of this class that appear to meet to be a strengthening of this attitude. And I don't like that. In my opinion, art should be accessible to the public and not require long, drawn out analysis to not only understand it but to also understand what it means "to understand". We've only had 2 classes though, so I'm willing to give the class the benefit of he doubt.

After more than 19 sketches, I finally decided on the first piece of furniture that I will be making. And though I have been told that keeping this first piece simple is for the best, I still feel like my design should be something more in a design sense. I am very attached to the artistic meaning behind it though, so I guess I will just have to make sure my craftsmanship is as flawless as possible. I've finished the majority of my model, with just some small elements left that will help make it more fleshed out.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

MFA: The Beginning

This past week marks the beginning of my journey towards an MFA in Furniture Design.  I will admit that as day 1 began, I was incredibly nervous.  What if I didn't have what it takes?  What if my knowledge of the tools was nowhere near up to snuff?  What if I couldn't come up with a good design to save my life?

This year is more of a post baccalaureate year before the true bulk of my graduate classes begins, and I must say that it is a relief.  My first project, "The Wall" is to be a wall hung piece with the use of either doors or drawers.  I struggled to come up with a design for this as I have honestly never thought of designing a wall hung piece.  When I begin to design, my first inclination is towards sculpture, meaning that I have to find a way to make that design work as a piece of furniture.  In some cases, this has meant finding a way to add drawers or doors to a piece that I would not normally put these on, and in other cases it has meant figuring out how this design could be created in the first place.

One thing I will say that's on my side is how I think when designing a three dimensional piece; I am able to think in three dimensions and then sketch my ideas out in a way that makes sense.  My initial sketches may not be to scale, but that isn't the point.  I can figure out my construction problems as they come along and also figure out how they will look when in use.  I don't know if this comes from years of teaching students how to draw three-dimensionally or how to design and then create a sculpture, but it is a skill that has imporoved over the years.

As far as my knowledge of the tools, I find that I still retain a lot of my prior knowledge from being a monitor in my undergrad as well as the knowledge I have amassed working in my family's fabrication business.  Moreover, for those tools that are fairly new to me, we have already had demos that are taking that doubt away.

Overall, I'd say that I am getting more comfortable.  To succeed, I need to immerse myself in a history of furniture design and sketch my brains out.  All else will come with time.