In my work, I construct furniture objects using traditional steam bending methods. I’ve taken these traditional techniques and implemented them in unconventional ways, at times free forming each individual piece by hand, occasionally using the more typical means of a mold, but only when the limitations of the wood beg me to do so.
This practice of bending wood denies me the opportunity of working at a slow pace, instead it forces quick action. I work intuitively, letting the nature of the wood guide my hand. I work primarily in oak and I use my body to bend and curve the wood as it cools, using my body and hands as just another tool. I gain an intimacy with the oak this way, understanding its nature more, both in hot and cold environments. I have gained a deep insight to the limits of bent wood.
I am drawn to the extent of how far wood can bend. It is an obsession with the idea of taking a hard material and making it pliable. Limits have always been made to be tested. It is my exploration into woodworking that has brought me to a technique that is not only expressive, but also tests the limits.
Several of the objects are made with only a constructed underbody, then blanks of steamed oak are then placed on the plywood structure to create something that gives the impression of chaos and order at the same time. With the settee, I focused on achieving this in a cohesive manner. I created the side table with tameness in mind, yet still worked without a mold and intuitively bent each strip, striving for a unified whole - a complete contrast to the bench.
Throughout this experiment of steam bending, I’ve learned that my passion lies in furniture that is organic in nature, ones that follow the curves of nature. Such pieces give the viewer a sense of comfort, of warmth. I chose a natural palette to contrast with the chaos or accommodate the calm.
I will continue to find the extent of where, and how far, I can go with this process of steam bending. Each piece has been an exploration of the wood and an exploration of my own patience, as the wood is not always forgiving.
Furniture is about the engagement between the object and viewer, and also between the maker. I want the viewer to be aware of the choices behind the piece. It is through this relationship that I am drawn to furniture, through the design, the choice of process, the interaction, and the end result.