A big surprise at the show was the new entry of Brian Bright. Although he graduated with an MFA from the prestigious Rochester Institute of Technology School for American Crafts several years ago (whose alum also include David Hurwitz and Leah Woods), he had been toiling away creating very high end board room furniture with WallGoldfinger (their clients include all the top Wall Street investment banks, when I visited the shop a while ago they were working on "The Situation Room" for the White House) until the economic downturn gave him the inspiration and time to set up his own studio. His work demonstrates both fine artistry and craft that seems to play with the tension between asymmetry and balance. He is definitely someone to watch as his work progresses.
©Eric SprengerI especially like the panels he used for the display. He said that they hadn't been used for a show in a long time and in the interim he let them be used by his hometown of Wilmington, VT for an event and the kid decorated them. I think they did a great job.
©Eric SprengerThe show also gave me a chance to meet Timothy Clark, the famed cabinetmaker/chairwright. Windsor chairs are typically very traditional and a bit stodgy, not having changed much in over two hundred years of manufacturing, so Timothy should really be applauded for coming up with a contemporary twist (separating the arm rest from the back rails) that makes it simultaneously elegant/sturdy and modern/traditional.
David Hurwitz was also at the show and, although he had very little time to create new work, he managed to finish this great new mirror (the cherry didn't have time to get a red/brown patina).
The angled curves and tails at the beginning and end give it much more movement than his other waves (see neighboring mirrors). A nice addition to his portfolio. Perhaps he will be integrating the design in to furniture pieces as well.
My booth was across from ClearLake Furniture so I heard a lot about this impressive quarter sawn white oak round table.
They have a contract to create 60 of these for The Taft School, a private boys boarding school in Connecticut, as part of a $30 million renovation of their dining room. The table is a rock. Made with 1.5 inch boards, it weighs close to 400lbs. Thankfully, it breaks into two pieces of about equal weight. Normally, ClearLake creates pieces one at a time with one woodworker on each piece, start to finish, so production work like this is a big change but also a welcome source of income.
An interesting addition to the show was the Naked Table Project, conceived and organized by Charles Shackleton and Miranda Thomas. The idea is to promote sustainable forestry, woodworking, and agriculture. Participants pay around $650 to assemble and finish a table, over two days, that is made with sustainably harvested, locally grown, sugar maple; finished with Vermont Natural Coatings' environmentally safe whey-based finish; and inaugurated with a diner party featuring locally grown/raised food.
Here are the participants at the beginning of the project, sanding the table tops and preparing it for the finish. I think that is Andrew Meyer (in the middle with sweater and khakis), owner of Vermont Natural Coatings, giving some instructions. I have to say, they do have a great product. I got a sample at last year's show and compared it with General Finishes High Performance Poly (Fine Woodworking's top choice for water-based finishes) and I thought VNC was every bit as good if not better. The viscosity is very low so it goes on smooth but it still has a high percentage of solids so it builds up very fast. Two coats seemed to be plenty whereas with most other polyurathanes that I've used, three seems to be the minimum. Also, the fact that there are no noxious VOCs associated with it is a huge plus. You can be use it indoors without ventilation and have no fear of causing brain damage.
Another studio furniture maker that really raises the level of the show is the work of William LeBerge. His arts and crafts inspired furniture is meticulously designed and constructed. Very impressive work.
I plan to be back next year and hope the show continues to improve. Hopefully, the economy will turn by then and it will draw more buyers.