Tag Archives: Furniture

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Patrick Kana: The Rumson Low Table

I have had the pleasure of exhibiting my work at Main Street Arts for almost two years now, and I jumped at the opportunity to participate in this collaborative show.  Ceramic artist Peter Pincus and I have been looking forward to an chance to collaborate for some time now and this exhibition is a great fit.

The table I designed for this show is a fusion of new energy and expertise with a product I had made three years prior: The Rumson Table.  The Rumson Table was designed as a simple and elegant occasional table, with crisp hand-shaped details.  I chose Mahogany for the stand and Zebrawood for the top to bring a warmth and color contrast not typically seen in contemporary furniture.  While I enjoy the color tones and overall form, my goal was to create a companion coffee table with a lower, more gestural stance and refined proportions.  The original Rumson Table stands 30″ tall while the new Rumson Low Table stands 15″ tall and 36″ across.

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I formally started my career as a furniture maker in 2007, training as an apprentice for master furniture maker and luthier Peter Dudley.  One apprenticeship led to another, and after receiving my degree in Architectural Studies and Studio Art from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, I continued to receive my MFA in Furniture Design from the prestigious School for American Crafts at RIT.  These experiences have cemented traditional craft execution in my practice alongside a contemporary design process.  Currently, my work is often inspired by botanical and marine biological forms, though there are times when the utility of an object takes precedence.  The Rumson Low table was a chance for me to refine the process by which I make this table.

While I often prioritize natural forms,  I am very driven by the selection of my material.  The majority of the wood I use is either milled from local logs, or sourced as reject material from lumber companies and sawyers.  In the case of the Zebrawood for the Rumson Low Table I was fortunate to obtain a sun-beaten pallet of African hardwoods that were destined for the dumpster. As I often discover, just beneath the grey weathered surface is warm color, texture, and most importantly, potential.

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I begin by selecting boards for matching grain patterns for the table top, trying to balance uniformity, contrast, energy and visual rest in the wood grain.  I step mill the planks very carefully to guarantee stability over the lifetime of the piece, and lastly, edge joint each seam with a hand plane for a flawless glue-joint.  Simultaneously, I begin making patterns and templates for the base components, to not only ensure that each component becomes an exact match, but to also build upon my inventory of “visual vocabulary” from which to pull inspiration later on.

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As you can see, I saw out the components for the base, and then cut the joinery.  Typically, joinery is cut first, then components cut out, but in my experience, I can attain more components per plank and waste very little wood in the process.  Although it’s slightly more labor intensive in the joinery-stages, it’s well worth it in my process.

At this point in the process, the components are still “blocky” to me.  I find my greatest enjoyment in the stages to come–laying out guidelines for the shaping process, and giving life to these components.  I add tapers, bevels, and progressing curves to the outer surfaces of each component, which not only adds dimension and depth, but gives them a vibrancy when light reflects off of the multiple surfaces.  My go-to tools for this process are spokeshaves, and Japanese rasps.  Some tools leave polished surfaces ready for finish, others leave behind a surface in need of careful sanding.

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I pre-sand all components prior to assembly.  This makes for easy work refining details on smaller components rather than sanding details on a completely assembled, unwieldy piece. Assembly for a base like this is not as easy as it may seem. Precise clamping pads are made for each corner to guarantee perfect pressure on each joint, and yes, it requires a lot of clamps! When it assembles smoothly and nothing shifts during the process, you know you’ve done your job well.

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Final touches are easily done at this point–cleaning up any glue, sanding any transitions, and my favorite, giving each sharp corner and edge a simple chamfer to make the piece soft to the touch.  Lastly, I finish all my work with a hand-rubbed oil varnish blend which not only allows the richness of these woods to pop, but also offers great protection for a utilitarian piece.

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The finished piece retains crisp lines and curves, while having an updated and more gestural stance.  These details, plus the bulbous square top relate nicely to Peter Pincus’ porcelain urns.  While slightly drastic, I am very happy with the color contrast between our work. I believe it brings out different qualities in the work that may not have been evident without the other.

I currently live and work in Geneva, NY  where I create work on commission and speculation for clients around the country.  I am also the Studio Technician and teach as Adjunct Faculty for Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  I welcome visitors to my 4000 square foot furniture studio, where I have available space for fellow artists and woodworkers, along with a suite of fully restored 1940′s vintage woodworking equipment.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Patrick Kana’s furniture in our current exhibition “Setting the Table” (runs through November 25th). You can see more of Patrick’s work online at www.patrickkana.com or follow him on Instagram @pk_designermaker. You can contact Patrick with questions, comments, and orders at patrick@patrickkana.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by furniture maker Chara Dow.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Chara Dow: Growth of a Sideboard

This table started the way many of my pieces start;  with a deadline and a vague idea.  I had purchased a beautiful, highly fingered slab of Flame Beech up in the Adirondacks a year before and the design grew out of the amount of life and movement flowing through the grain of the slab. I decided to make a sideboard so I could elevate the beech on top of a base which mirrored that organic form. For the legs I used Honey Locust from my collection. They were stripped down with a drawknife  and sanded to reveal their pink and yellow flesh, the angles of their wobbly knees and muscular hips.

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After a lot of awkward arranging, re-arranging and turning each branch a dozen times I settled on a stance that called to me.  The legs were then numbered and angles marked. The four drawbored thru tenons were then cut and fit into the Beech. With rustic work even very traditional joinery likes this becomes extremely custom. Everything is done by eye, there are no exact formats or jigs to follow due to the nature of the organic form I’m working with. Each branch is different in size, shape and angle so the joint takes its own path to completion. Each of these joints is unique, with maple dowels running through and securing the pieces tightly into place.

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img_0097After bracing each pair of legs with another locust branch I selected the material for the stretcher. I used Oriental Bittersweet Vine which is an invasive vine that chokes out many pockets of our beautiful native north eastern woods. I cut and pull it out of several local parks with permission. Shown here it is climbing in Corbett’s Glen Park before being cut. Once cut it is peeled and stored indoors where to dry.  I wanted to use the vines in the base because it was an ideal place to showcase the wild tangled way they grow and twist so perfectly around themselves, and anything that gets in their way on their path to the light.

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The process is quiet and contemplative and  involves a lot of arranging, turning, clamping and then standing back and looking.  Taking it all apart and trying different vines. Each vine gets turned upside down and backwards, rejected and then re-invited until the lines and negative spaces feel balanced, strong and peaceful.  Then they are marked and slowly placed in one at time, shaking hands through coped joints with other vines and branches, creating more strength at every contact. I did not want to overwhelm any of the lines but give instead each vine the space it needed to display the unique path it had taken through space; the obstacles it wriggled around and overcame while growing.

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I used chisels to carve the sharp right angles off the slab and bring it down to meet its asymmetrical base. Doing so created a highly tactile detail to run the finger tips along in passing. The slab had been air dried and has a subtle dish warp to it that I thoroughly enjoy and chose not to correct as I wanted to give a nod to the movement and growth in wood, a living material that never truly stops breathing and softly seething. Four hard maple bowtie keys were set into the slab to secure a crack running on the underside.

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The chaotic messy shop space before it was deep cleaned for the finish to be applied.

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 Multiple coats of a high quality durable oil based top coat were applied and the legs were additionally waxed and buffed. When the oil hits the Beech and Honey Locust all of the rich tones and deep figure pop and the warmth of the wood is radiated.

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Before the opening I carved a Cherry serving spoon to accompany the turrine Richard provided for the show.

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The rich natural lines of Richard Aerni’s ceramics married harmoniously with the sideboard. Here in the gallery it catches the natural light coming through the windows and casts wild shadows on the gallery floor. These materials may have been caught but they will never be tame.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Chara Dow’s furniture in our current exhibition “Setting the Table” (runs through November 25th). You can see more of Chara’s work online at www.charadowrusticworks.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Cherry Rahn.

October/November Exhibitions Upstairs at Main Street Arts

This is the last week to see the current exhibitions Upstairs at Main Street Arts. Stop by before the 29th to catch these four shows!

Rand Darrow's Puppets

Rand Darrow’s Puppets

The Northern Winds: Paintings and Puppets from the Imaginative Mind of Rand Darrow

An illustrated series of Russian folklore and fantasy,
including Chagall inspired paintings, puppets, and more.

Mike Goscinsky, "The Dog Builders", woodcut on paper

Mike Goscinsky, “The Dog Builders”, woodcut on paper

Pictographic Prints by Mike Goscinsky

An exhibit of woodcut prints and drawings featuring fantastical imagery of animals and pictographs.

Dennis Revitzky, "Tangled Trees, Mendon Ponds", oil & mixed media on canvas

Dennis Revitzky, “Tangled Trees, Mendon Ponds”, oil & mixed media on canvas

Paintings and Prints by Dennis Revitzky

A selection of Revitzky’s landscape paintings and prints
from Rochester, the Finger Lakes area, and beyond.

Adrian Vanden Bout and Samantha Stumpf

Adrian Vanden Bout and Samantha Stumpf

Setting the Table: Ceramics by Samantha Stumpf and Furniture by Adrian Vanden Bout

A pairing of rustic handmade furniture and original ceramic tableware.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Mark Zeh: Relationship with Wood

My name is Mark Zeh. I am from New Jersey, where I was both a Telecommunications Engineer as well as a furniture designer and furniture maker.  Today, I am a full time designer and maker.  My work encompasses everything from built in custom interiors to small carved objects and everything I can manage in between.  I am currently completing my MFA in furniture design at the School of American Crafts (SAC) at Rochester Institute of Technology.  Following this achievement I will continue to design and create exciting pieces.

Mark Zeh, Curved Leg Stool

Curved Leg Stool

Mark Zeh, Curved Leg Stool detail

Mark Zeh, Curved Leg Stool detail

Though I do occasionally work with other materials I primarily work with wood.  I find wood has the ability to portray many of my ideas in a most desirable way.  Though it is hard, it has a suppleness and softness of character that I look to celebrate in the final piece.  I want the wood to have a role not only as the material of the piece but also in telling its part of the story.

Mark Zeh, Reliquary

Mark Zeh, Reliquary

Mark Zeh, Reliquary detail

Mark Zeh, Reliquary detail

Along with investigating and building my thesis work I am interested in exploring shaping wood to give it the look of movement, and fluidity, as well as a certain relationship with gravity.  I do this through carving the shapes and joining in certain ways to show continuity of grain.  I also look to achieve this through steaming, bending, or laminating many thin layers to form a continuous shape that cannot be done as easily with solid wood.   I love to expose woods shy soft flexible inner self.

Mark Zeh, Pillow

Mark Zeh, Pillow

Mark Zeh’s “Pillow” is part of Main Street Arts’ national juried exhibition, Small Works. Hard to believe that soft, fluffy pillow is made of wood!

Stop by to see his piece in person through December 29, 2014. You can see more of Mark’s work on his website.

Read the previous Inside the Artist’s Studio post, by painter Trina May Smith.

October Shows Upstairs at Main Street Arts

We have some great new October shows Upstairs at Main Street Arts! Stop by to check out the prints & paintings of Dennis Revitsky, wood cut prints by Mike Goscinsky, puppets & paintings by Rand Darrow, and handmade ceramics & furniture by Samantha Stumpf and Adrian VandenBout.

October Shows Upstairs at Main Street Arts

October Shows Upstairs at Main Street Arts

See more information on these shows on the Main Street Arts exhibitions page.

Exhibition Dates: October 3–November 29, 2014