The Creative Process: Expanding Yourself as a Designer

The Creative Process: Expanding Yourself as a Designer

Posted in Furniture Making, News, Woodworking | 3 comments

Posted by  David J. Marks July 31, 2014   I believe that design is the ultimate frontier in woodworking.  We live in a time that finds many people with the resources to set up a shop at home. It is amazing to see how many people are able to outfit their shops with a lot of the tools they need due to the fact that the majority of power tools are now made in China and have become affordable to the masses. So once we all have shops and we all have similar tools and wood, the question is: How do we differentiate our work from someone else’s? How do we create individual designs that makes the statement that this person’s work is unique and deserves to be recognized as an object of art? Most of us take life for granted, the daily routines leave us without a sense of magic. So Imagination is the first challenge for anyone attempting to design something outside the box.   I do recommend an excellent book titled “Sparks of Genius” the thirteen thinking tools of the world’s most creative people.  You will discover that most of them had a skill for distracting their minds and playing as a way of increasing their creative skills. I believe that there are many components to good design but they are also directly related to the craftsmanship and skill of the maker.  Just like a fine painting, the excellence of and the skill of the painter is just as important as the vision of the painter. I got started in woodworking in 9th grade shop class in New Jersey where I lived until I was 20.  For reference, I was born in 1951.   I’m left handed and seemed to have a talent for art so I took art classes learning to draw throughout high school. In 1971 I moved to northern California.  By 1981, I had opened my own workshop/studio.  The following year I took classes with Art Carpenter, Gary Knox Bennett and many others from the Baulines Craft Guild located in the Bay Area of Northern California. These classes changed my life.  I was introduced to numerous techniques like using router templates, making frame and panels, working with exotic woods, bending wood, creating mock ups to hone in on design and proportions, combining metal and wood, all of which had a huge influence on my designs. I was determined to dedicate myself to increasing my skill levels until I could be considered a Master Craftsman. As the years went by, I continued to take weekend workshops with as many Master Craftsman as I could as I journeyed further and deeper into the world of contemporary furniture.    Some of those workshops were given by James Krenov, Art Carpenter, Wendell Castle, Sam Maloof , Bob Stocksdale , Gary Knox Bennett, as well as a Japanese master...

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Working Out the Bugs

Posted in Double Bevel Marquetry, Woodworking |

The good folks at Popular Woodworking magazine invited me to do some demonstrations at the Woodworking in America show in Pasadena last October. One of my demos was on double bevel marquetry so I decided to make a small sample of something to show the people in my class. I decided to try and make a “bug”. Yellow heart made a great background color and I love the graphic qualities of the end grain of black palm wood from Indonesia so I used it for the main body. Ebony was my choice for the legs, Pernambuco for the eye with that amazing orange color, purpleheart for the face and a lapis substitute I purchased made from powder and resin for the head. The horn seemed to need something to make it stand out so I used a piece of 60 thousandths thick abalone shell that my good friend Larry Robinson gave to me. Abalone is very hard so when it was all glued up, I used a hardwood block and wrapped some 120 sandpaper over it to block sand and level the surface. After hand sanding to 600 grit, I applied Arm-R-Seal wiping varnish to the surface and using a rubber block, wet sanded it with 1000 grit. It really smoothed the surface and made the colors come out. My wife Victoria and I really enjoyed the show and I finally got to meet renown woodworker Roy Underhill for the first time. What a cool guy he is. My only regret is that I was too busy teaching to get much of a chance to walk around and see the rest of the show. So much great woodworking going on and not enough time to see it all. My  Double Bevel Marquetry DVD  explains the technique of creating pictures in wood step by step....

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