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Meet the Artist
About This Artist
Rick Laufer is an award-winning woodworker who creates furniture that accentuates the natural beauty of wood. Whatever the design, every piece I make has its own look, its own personality, based on subtle differences in the grain, or the angles, or the 'feel' of the wood. He also pays careful attention to functionality. Furniture should do what it is supposed to do. A chair, for example, doesn't need to shout 'I'm art', but it does need to need to look appealing and feel comfortable.
Q&A With This Artist
A: Wood. Mostly local eastern hardwoods- black walnut, cherry, oak or maple. I've recently made a few pieces for a client in sapele, a sustainable mahogany alternative, that has a wonderful glow. My process is the same for most of my pieces. Step 1. I begin with pencil and paper, and sketch out ideas- shapes and curves. Then I transfer this to a computer, where I can alter the dimensions and shapes quickly to get what I am after. Once satisfied with the design, I begin thinking joinery. For a chair, how will the legs attach to the seat, the arms to the legs? Then how will it feel? What are the angles? Will the seat and back fit right, neither too upright nor too relaxed.? Step 2. Next, I think about wood. I make patterns for legs and arms, and use these to roughly bandsaw out the parts, usually from rough two- inch thick lumber. I take these parts to a jointer and planer to make the pieces flat and smooth. Now I have parts. Step 3. Here, while the parts are essentially rectangular shapes, I cut the joints usually mortise and tenon. Test fit, and if okay, I will take the parts back to a band saw to cut rough curves that will be later shaped. Then glue the parts together. Step 4. Now the hard part. Here is where the artistry comes to play. At this stage I have essentially a boxy shape, arms, legs, seat. Now I need to make the pieces flow together-- to get the lines I sketched initially on paper. The parts need to flow together and feel right. I begin shaping with an eight-inch disc sander with a very heavy grit. Then a smaller disc sander, rasps, random orbital sanders and finally hand sanding. Step 5. Finish. This is where the object will begin to shine, the grain comes out, the figure pops. I use an oil finish, maybe five or six coats. Maybe buff with wax. Or not. Done.
A: Wood is beautiful. Hard and soft. Malleable and strong.
A: I see shapes, sculpture, designs in other mediums or designs in building. How was that curve on the side of this Italian sports car. How did Gehry create this hardline and concave or convex surface. How did this guitar maker rough out the shape and how did he or she get it to shine. I also like to look at new tools and techniques (at least to me) that will shape wood -- a new amazingly smooth sander, a new way to guide a piece of wood through a bandsaw on a sled, a new way to bend and laminate wood with flexible metal forms, a new modeling software used in the film industry --- and try to imagine how I can use this in my own pieces.
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