The Amana Colonies (in Amana, Iowa) are renowned for handcrafted furniture of traditional designs. It was there that I learned to respect both machines and wood.
For five years I was employed at the Amana Furniture Shop building rocking chairs, dressers, china cupboards, hutches, and a variety of smaller pieces of furniture.
INITIAL SHOP SET-UP AND MARKETING
In 1979, a building was rented in Oxford, Iowa, (which is near Iowa City), and the various machines and tools accumulated over the years were put to use.
I began producing furniture and a variety of smaller items to be marketed at juried art fairs throughout the Midwest, enabling sales of the speculation pieces and obtaining commissions for custom pieces.
RELOCATION OF THE SHOP
In 1992, a fire originating a half a block away destroyed sixty percent of the shop and it’s contents and I was forced to find a different location.
A building was located and purchased in the business district of Wellman, Iowa, and after four months of preparation, construction of furniture and artwork was once again the focus.
WOODWORKING AS AN OCCUPATION
Undivided attention is required- woodworking is a very dangerous business.
A filter mask must be worn most of the day, as all of the dust produced is toxic.
Hearing protection and a face shield are also necessities for many of the procedures.
Woodworking is physically demanding. Rough lumber must be hand selected, loaded, unloaded, and placed in racks until selected again for a particular project.
Once the lumber is chosen, it is then cut slightly oversize, flat planed, parallel planed, joined, and then worked with a variety of equipment to produce the desired results.
Next, the components are sanded using a variety of equipment, using progressively finer grades of sandpaper and finally hand polished with 0000 steel wool.
Once the project is assembled and the final details attended to, a finish of Danish oil and Tung oil is thoroughly applied by hand, bringing out the natural beauty of the woods.
My time is divided between designing and building custom commissions and producing speculation art furniture and wall sculptures, which are exhibited at major juried art fairs in the larger cities of the Midwest.
Marketing and administrative duties also require a good deal of my time as well.
A show schedule is available on the website.