Seth Rolland: Slicing Maestro
Fine Woodworking featured Seth Rolland’s work on the back cover of the August 2010 issue (FWW #213). Online members can download the back cover page and find out how he makes his unique “Oxeye Hall Table” in a feature by Anissa Kapsales.
In his sliced furniture, Seth Rolland combines a gift for technical innovation with a great eye for aesthetics. Working alone in the shop he built in Port Townsend, Washington, Rolland builds these pieces by bandsawing boards into multiple–sometimes dozens of–bendable elements. But like a master of decorative paper cutting, he never cuts the workpiece all the way apart. This slide show explains how Rolland built the table on this month’s back cover, and then presents a wide range of other pieces he has made using the same techniques.
Raised in Rye, New York, the son of an architect and a landscape architect, Rolland was exposed to museums and design throughout his childhood. His mother (the architect) taught him to use a hammer when he was five, and he remembers building a raft from driftwood and Styrofoam when he was six.
After college he had jobs building boats and furniture and then moved west to New Mexico, where he began making simple folding patio chairs to sell at small craft shows. He made scores of them, getting by with a small tablesaw, a router and a drill. With proceeds from the sales he gradually equipped his shop. Over the years he began branching out in terms of technique and design and sold his furniture at more prominent craft shows. In 2001 he and his wife, who have two sons, moved to Port Townsend.
Rolland’s sliced work is just one aspect of his output. He’s made a range of tables with cantilevered tops that incorporate large, smooth stones found on the beaches of the Puget Sound as counterweights. And many other pieces, which display Rolland’s skill with more traditional woodworking techniques and materials, have a vocabulary of organic shapes and curves inspired by nature. All are displayed on his website: http://www.sethrolland.com/