I have always enjoyed woodworking, even when
still a young boy.
When in my early twenties, unable to find a
place in the States where I could further my education doing
traditional work, and intrigued by the Japanese manner of
woodworking, I came to Japan to begin an apprenticeship in a
furniture making shop.
It required a lot of searching to locate a shop
that would take me on, and I believe there being no precedent
for it in terms of a westerner seeking such training,
encountered much delay in obtaining a visa that would allow me
to receive a wage and pursue the work full time, the only
condition under which I would be allowed to enter the company.
With immense gratefulness to finally get
everything squared away, I began the association that would last
four years. It was both very rewarding and a period of much
personal struggle to fit in with the traditional ways, I had
never previously experienced anything like it.
I followed this period of training with two
years working in two traditional chair workshops in Great
Britain, one specializing in Windsor types, and the other in
what is referred to as "best" chair making, that is mainly
upholstered chairs, designs in the Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and
Sheraton styles, would be very representative of it.
In both cases in the two countries, I was very
fortunate to find employment in some of the last remaining shops
doing this type of work, where the trades were still being
pursued in a more traditional manner. Such had to a large extent
disappeared with the changing times.
After returning to my home in California, I
established my furniture making business, and for the following
eleven years was located there, building a large diversity of
work for a broad range of people. Work was very consistent, and
although beginning my approach by doing work that was of a
traditional design nature, gradually I developed an interest in
designing my own furniture.
Absorbing the details from traditional work gave
me the confidence to use the forms in some ways that had not
been done before, and especially working with curves I found
very enjoyable, and wanted to reveal them in ways that I thought
might change their potential, and also reveal my own vision that
had developed regarding attractiveness.
I have much
respect for traditional work, and except for some forays into
very different personal approaches to furniture making using
steel, most of what I do hasn't strayed very far away from the
sense and methods that evolved the trade over hundreds of years
within specific cultures, and out of which I was originally
trained, including the use of hand tools.
Japan was a place that held a lot of inspiration
for me when an apprentice. The manner of working and
people's spirits about the work were very solid at that time.
I always thought that being an independent woodworker here, in a
place where the standards were rather high and the history for
it long, would be an intriguing way to go.
I also greatly liked designing and building
furniture for the tatami mat room, an environment where
furniture is used rather sparingly. The serenity of the
location along with tastefully designed furniture for it,
although often somewhat restrained, allows for a good
combination where woodwork can reveal itself in both humble and
very attractive ways, a quiet atmosphere for details to express.
My shop has been located in Japan for approximately the last
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