oak and fire
On April 10th, 2017, my studio was destroyed in a fire that started in the next door building and spread to four buildings. The studio was on fire for some while until firemen doused it from both inside and out. 44 communities in three states responded to the 5-alarm fire; two buildings collapsed into the street.
Talented woodworker Samuel Bridge and I had begun developing a new series of slices using the ancient Japanese finishing technique ‘Shou Sugi Ban’, involving setting the wood alight and allowing it to burn to a specific point. The resulting finish is extremely long-lasting though it bears the marks of the fire. This seems a fitting metaphor for the studio, its loss, and my recovery: fire destroys the surface of the piece, what is seen from the outside, but not the deeper layers. Once the slice is cooled, a thoughtful human intervention begins: sanding the rough edges smooth, oiling the wood to bring out its resonance. The scars from the event are celebrated. The sweeping power of nature combines with human creativity to make the slice beautiful, stronger, and more durable.