The shop and house are nestled into two acres of planted prairie.
Click for larger image and caption.
It could be said that my professional life has come full circle. As a self-taught woodworker I opened my first shop, Treeborn Creations, in 1972. My work included period reproduction furniture, contemporary furniture, and casework. In 1976 I merged with another shop, Woodsmith, we built the business to a 7,000 sq. ft. facility with a maximum of eight employees and three partners including myself. Our high end work included: short run production of wooden accessories and furniture, custom contract and residential furniture, casework, and millwork. As we grew, I moved from the bench to the office and was responsible for design, shop drawings, and production coordination. Due to economic conditions and the toll it was taking on commercial construction and the industry's supplyers, we closed this shop in 1982.
For the next 4 years I worked as a technical consultant to various woodworking shops and as a shop manager for a custom contract furniture company. During that time I was learning the finer points of commercial photography, and in 1988 I opened my own photography studio specializing in architectural, interior, and studio product photography.
About a year before closing my photography studio in 1998 I had decided to make a somewhat casual return to woodworking. I set up a shop for the primary purpose of building the cabinets for a kitchen and bathroom remodeling project that I was planning for my 1908 vintage house. My intent at that point was to maintain an amateur relationship in woodworking and stick with photography as a profession.
As I got deeper into my cabinet project, I found that I rediscovered the drive that led me to woodworking in the first place. As I moved past this initial project I also found that building meaningful pieces of furniture that can be used and appreciated daily felt more sensible philosophically than much of the work that I was doing as a photographer. After some careful soul searching I decided that a change was needed.
So, in June of 1998 I closed the photography studio and returned full-time to building furniture. My focus now is to keep the business small, in a big way, as I joyfully push beyond the limits that my previous woodworking evolution had set for me.
In 2001 I received a tuition scholarship from the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Colorado, to attend a workshop by Robert Ingham who was the principal of instruction for 20 years at Parnham College founded by John Makepeace, one of Great Britain’s top furniture designers and builders. I also received a Career Opportunity Grant from the Minnesota State Arts board to assist with travel and lodging expenses. The two week course was named “Intriguing Boxes, Drawers & Details”. Robert provided some unique solutions for both technical and aesthetic details which included some very creative techniques for the mastery of hand-cut dovetails. One of the most rewarding aspects of this experience was the opportunity to have extended discussions and to develop a valuable professional relationship with the person who has trained a great number of England’s top furniture builders.
After five years of dealing with the frustrations and inefficiencies of working out of a basement shop in a 100+ year old house in South Minneapolis, my wife and I explored the possibility of moving to a semi-rural area and building a new house and woodworking studio on small acreage. We broke ground in August of 2002. Both projects are still a work in progress (as is typical for a woodworker). We took occupancy in the summer of 2003.
I now reside and work just south of Prescott, Wisconsin. The studio is a joy to work in with ample light, space, and ceiling height. I continue to explore new techniques and design possibilities in my personal work while applying these sensibilities to the more project specific requirements of client needs for custom furniture.
Xylos — A Gallery of Fine Woodwork, Minneapolis: Co-Op Gallery Partner 2000 to 2007
New Work— Xylos Gallery, Minneapolis: Annual Show 2000 to 2007
Northern Woods Exhibition— Minnesota Woodworkers Guild Annual Exhibition 1998 to 2009
Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI. Galleries Two and Three — Xylos Group Show 2006
GRANTS & SCHOLARSHIPS
Anderson Ranch Arts Center Scholarship Fund June 2001
Minnesota State Arts Board - Career Opportunity Grant 2001
PRESENTATIONS & LECTURES
How to Photograph Furniture, Minnesota Woodworkers Guild June 1998
Using the Guild's Photographic Lights, Minnesota Woodworkers Guild October 2000
The Extended Workshop Experience December 2001
SEMINARS & TRAINING
Furniture Society Conference; Toronto June 2000
Toshio Odate: Shoji Screen Making Workshop, Minneapolis February 2001
Anderson Ranch Arts Center — Robert Ingham: "Intriguing Boxes, Drawers, & Details", Snowmass CO June 2001
Furniture Society Conference; Madison, WI June 2002
Judge: Northern Woods Exhibition — Minnesota Woodworkers Guild 2014