Don’t Mess With Texas Furniture
I was one of three judges at the 11th annual Texas Furniture Makers Show, along with the inestimable Brian Boggs, and local carver Alan Carr. We agreed on almost all of the awards, but of course I had my personal favorites, and this blog is my way of getting the last word.
The show was even stronger than last time I judged in 2008, and I am always charmed to visit the Hill Country town of Kerrville, just outside San Antonio, and walk into the beautiful arts center there. Built in the former post office, and the result of years of hard work by local volunteers and philanthropists, the center has everything: state-of-the-art galleries, a gift shop, and plenty of room downstairs for hands-on seminars and demonstrations.
The Kerrville (TX) Arts & Cultural Center is housed in a converted post office, but updated beautifullly with galleries, seminar spaces, and a large gift shop.
The arts center welcomes the Texas Furniture Makers Show each October, drawing top-class work from a growing number of talented woodworkers throughout the state.
Best in Show went to Jim Wallace of Cedar Park for his "Tapestry Series II Chess Table." He said he took a past judge's (Michael Fortune) input and tapered the legs all the way to the top on this piece.
Second place overall went to Alton Bowman's writing table, all in rosewood veneer, with a gorgeous inlay of a rosewood branch and flower. Bowman hails from Flower Mound, appropriately.
Past Best in Show winner, Phillip Sell, of Waverly, wowed the judges with his "Cicada Iris" table. The circles in the gridwork are flawless laminations, with the plies traveling around the circle in a continuous spiral, each scarf-jointed into the next. And I have no idea how he managed the flawless joints.
The material in the center is a new polymer called Sensitile, a gridwork that picks up shadows and scatters them in a shimmering array. Sell's placard said "Please touch."
As a jaded editor, I have a soft spot for anything I haven't seen before, as well as the work of younger woodworkers. We gave a special Fine Woodworking award to pair of brick-laid, sculpted bedside tables, made by Chris Kemler of Carrollton at one of his first woodworking classes. He's got a great eye for curves, the patience to do flawless sculpting, and a bright future.
Kemler dished out the top flawlessly to stop a book or glasses from falling off, and provided a small pullout shelf for a glass of water.
This gorgeous contemporary sideboard, designed by Harold Wood and built by John O'Brien, both of San Antonio, features end-grain drawer fronts and will appear on the back cover of the next issue (FW 217) of Fine Woodworking magazine.
You can't look at Burt Ray's "Sunburst Table" without feeling happy. The Wimberley furniture maker's table was in the "Contemporary" category, but I think it should have gone in the "Texas style" group. It reminded me of the San Antonio sunshine.
The tapestry and tassel are all wood, and Wallace's stylized chess pieces are just as distinctive as the table.