On the cusp of his 80s, Wendell Castle revels in the techniques that launched his career.
By Scott Gibson
It is a cool June morning, and a light northwest breeze is clearing out yesterday’s squalls over western New York State. By 9 a.m., Wendell Castle is in his studio, alone, working on a drawing of a chair. An ellipsoid leg takes shape as the pencil glides over the paper.
A first-time visitor to this spacious workroom would be hard-pressed not to stand at the door and gape. Worktables are crammed with urethane models of upcoming projects, tools, glue bottles, bits and pieces of projects. Near the center of the room, a 400-pound chunk of stack-laminated ash rests on a pair of sawhorses and awaits carving. Drawings are pinned to a corkboard on the wall. Against one wall is an immense shipbuilder’s band saw with a rotating head. Where do you look first? It’s as if Castle’s head had simply exploded, spilling ideas everywhere.
At the forefront of American furniture design for more than 40 years, Castle occupies a unique space bridging the gap between utility and fine art. On the day of my visit, five months before his 80th birthday, he is as deeply engaged in his work as he’s ever been, juggling commitments to multiple shows and galleries both in the United States and abroad. And he seems to be savoring all of it.
Web: View some online galleries of Wendell Castle’s work.
To Buy: To learn more about studio furniture, read “Studio Furniture of the Renwick Gallery: Smithsonian American Art Museum,” by Oscar P. Fitzgerald. Read more
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