The Woodschool Blog
Critiques are an essential aspect of the Nine-month Comprehensive curriculum. Students have the special opportunity to receive advice, opinions, compliments, and criticisms from the established furniture makers invited to participate. The Nine-month students have packed up their work and said their goodbyes, but before they left, they had one final critique for their chair projects. Chairs are exceptionally difficult objects to design and make. They require a deceptive amount of engineering to be structurally and ergonomically successful, and they invariably require bizarre angles and difficult joinery. However, they also provide a unique opportunity for a maker to express his or her individual voice, as evidenced by the range of styles presented in the critique, from a quiet dining chair with subtle details, to a modern twist on a throne. Visiting critics included David Upfill-Brown, Joe Tracy, and John McAlevey.
One glance over Emily Deutchman’s bench area and it becomes clear: this is a space inhabited by a remarkably creative person. Her small corner in the Nine-month building bristles with aesthetic delights from the bursts of color painted on a row of mason jars to a well-curated bulletin board composed of sketches, inspiring photos, and geometric wooden jewelry. As an emerging furniture maker, Emily isn’t just about style and creativity, she also values exceptional craftsmanship. As a result, her work combines timeless heirloom quality with her unique voice as a designer.
Walking through the Nine-month classroom I am reminded that there are many different ways to approach a design brief. In the last 5 weeks each student designed and built a furniture piece with curved elements. Collectively they have created a fine body of work which includes a lawyer’s standing desk, coffee and side tables, hall and sofa tables, a wall cabinet, and a gentleman’s valet. In addition to steam and laminate bending, students explored other curve-forming techniques like coopering and kerf cutting. I’m sure there is a mix of relief, satisfaction, and accomplishment when the wood bends without breaking, when the vacuum press closes before the glue sets, or when there is minimal spring back when the clamps come off the form.
The last four weeks of the Twelve-week Intensive are dedicated to curvature. With freedom from the confines of the straight line, students' design vocabulary become practically unlimited. However, with the gift of openness comes the dilemma of choice. Consequently, this final project requires a great deal of experimentation and editing. Curves add both conceptual and aesthetic complexity, and as such, students learn to be both proactive and reactive in their process.
With solid wood design and construction under their belts, the Nine-month Comprehensive students are now being introduced to a whole new world of design opportunity. Veneer allows us to create work which doesn't require accommodation for wood movement. The ability to work with veneer can expand a furniture maker's aesthetic vocabulary exponentially; however, like learning a new medium, such expansion requires an entirely new set of skills.
- Projects in Progress: case piece, continued
- And the snow continues...
- First Snow
- Woodworking at the Maine State Prison
- Student Profile: meet Nine-month student Kevin Chen
- Projects in Progress: designing the case piece
- Around School: the Twelve-week Intensive
- Projects In Progress: the case piece
- Around Town: the Rockland breakwater
- Projects In Progress: finished tool cabinets