MotC: Matthias Pliessnig – Sinuous Seating
Matthias Pliessnig’s first encounters with woodworking were not encouraging. One of the first times he used a tablesaw, he experienced a kickback that knocked him down. The first table he built was such a failure that he took it on a camping trip and used it for firewood. All the constraints of the craft around wood movement and joinery seemed to leave no room for actually enjoying the process of making something.
Looking at the bent-wood benches he’s been building over the last decade, you can clearly see that all that has changed. The pivot point for Pliessnig came one summer during grad school in fine arts when he built a small ultralight boat: a Montfort Classic 12. To build it, Pliessnig had to learn steambending. Once the boat was in the water, Pliessnig began thinking about building furniture using the same technique.
Within a few weeks he’d built his first bench with steambent ribs and stringers-using precisely the same structural approach and bending techniques learned in building the boat. In the ten years since, Pliessnig has built benches in shops in Wisconsin, Philadelphia, and Rhode Island, as well as in Brooklyn, where he is currently based; the scenery has changed, but the work has remained constant-although he has steadily refined his processes and produced one magnificent bench after another, he has stayed true to his initial inspiration, the ultralight Montfort skiff.
This audio slideshow presents a banquet of benches he’s built in the last decade and describes many of the steps in the process of building them.