Furniture Society Conference: Cultural Mosaic, June 20-23, 2007
One great gathering and five great shows
The 2007 conference was loaded with engaging activities including lectures and demonstration by some of the most accomplished builders in North America.
Victoria, British Columbia, is one of the most beautiful places in North America. Located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and facing Olympic National Park in Washington state, Victoria was this year’s host to one of custom woodworking’s best events, the Furniture Society’s annual conference, held June 20-23. I put this trip on my calendar months in advance, anticipating four engaging days of rubbing elbows with fellow woodworkers and studying outstanding new examples of fine craftsmanship. It proved to be that and much more.
In case you haven’t heard of this group before, the Furniture Society is really worth getting to know. It’s an international non-profit organization, founded in 1996, whose mission is “to advance the art of furniture making by inspiring creativity, promoting excellence, and fostering an understanding of this art and its place in society.”
Society members, who number about 1600, come from across North America and abroad. They’re furniture makers, designers and teachers. It’s not an exclusive club though; membership is open to anyone interested in the craft. Over 400 members attended this year’s conference, the 11th annual gathering.
Each conference has a unique theme. Acknowledging the special location of this year’s gathering, the theme for 2007 was “Cultural Mosaic: Reflections from the Coastal Rain Forest.” Victoria sits at the heart of one of North America’s most highly developed woodworking traditions by Native Americans, or First Nations people, as they’re called in Canada. Northwest Coastal carving is known worldwide for exquisite masks, figures, panels, bentwood boxes, boats, and, of course, totem poles. It’s a craft that’s still alive and well, and this conference was a special opportunity to hear presentations and attend demonstrations by Northwest Coastal artisans. But that was just a jumping-off point for lots more woodworking.
Bentwood box maker John Martson demonstrates traditional First Nation tools and techniques. The theme of this year’s conference was “Cultural Mosaic: Reflections from the Coastal Rain Forest.”
Bent on Maple
Julian Laffin Camosun College Class of 2005
Western maple, handmade hardware
Philip R. Smith
Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia
Padauk, bird’s-eye maple, curly maple, cherry and juniper lining, ebony details
And Climbed Up Beside Her
Camosun College, Class of 2001
Planchonia, ebony plugs, tile, cowhide
Victoria, British Columbia
Belmont Secondary School, 11th grade
Victoria, British Columbia
Fir, cedar, yew, aspen, copper
A Broken Masterpiece
Vancouver, British Columbia
Bird’s-eye maple, burl maple, yellow cedar, ebony inlay
Camosun College, Class of 2007
Western maple, rosewwood dye and walnut stain