Both the creative gift and freedom are essential components to this residency. Our craft is a universal language. In order to evolve, we must strive to make connections and to realize them – visualization to manifestation.
Yuri, Reed, Eric, Jordan, Amber and I are fortunate to have eight weeks of incredible support for creative collaboration and exploration. We focus on the experiment at hand; whether the draw is a lust for the material or simply the best material to produce the object in mind, we choose wood. I have been focused on experimenting with new techniques and material potential. At the start of the residency I was most fascinated with wood bending potential. Before I came to Philadelphia, I had been carving small transparent feathers of different wood species in my small New Hope apartment. I had a few nights a week after my 9-5 at Nakashima to focus on craft and so small, delicate forms were what I had the resources and inspiration to make. The orientation was always the same although the specie changed. Reed and Yuri suggested I try to flip wood on end and carve and end-grain feather. I decided to combine a steam bent spine and the experiment began. As with any new experiment I was presented with quite a few challenges, but in the end I’d say it was a success. My next phase of experimentation was with the bending potential of Zebrawood cut diagonally cross-grain in thin strips with the intent to stack laminate 1/16” x 3/8” wide pieces with alternating grain orientation and press in forms which I designed to cooper and create an undulating vessel. The wood did not want to bend the way I had hoped and so after steaming, soaking in glycerin, soaking in veneer softener, Epsom salts, and bending each strip over a hot pipe for an hour, I managed to get two of the 86 pieces cut to bend to the form. I’m happy to find that it can be done – however, there is no doubt that it is wiser to modify the plan or come back to it later. Eighty-six hours of bending at a hot pipe is not how I’d like to take advantage of the time I have to spend with my talented crew. This propelled me to jump on the lathe to work on a piece with a design that required me to flip orientation front-to-back and back-to-front on the headstock to turn. After turning I spent a week dedicated to carving, exposing and accentuating the form. I’ve been mildly annoyed when my stomach begins to growl as a reminder to put it down, take a break and come back.
While in the carving zone, my mind is given the freedom to wind and unwind. Why are we so focused and compelled to make? Is it a need to find truth that lies at the bottom on an enigma? What are our criteria for evaluation? How do we find a way to move forward with integrity and relevance? Our energy and intentions are reflected in these objects. Craft makes us human. It sets us apart from other beings on this earth. It is what we go to as a reference for learning about ancient cultures, yet programs are being cut and replaced with those that promote quick study and multitasking rather than familiarity with depth. This time and space is important for us. We not only have the support of one another, filled with creative spirit and enthusiasm, but the time to reflect on the importance of what we are doing and why.