George Nakashima - American Woodworker

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wrote:

Take a look at many of the Readers Galleries in FWW. Lots of great stuff.
Maybe a couple of them might get promoted by the marketing machine to become 'sought after'.
Promotion and media exposure make stars out of some pretty ordinary artists. That's not to suggest that Nakashima, Maloof, Krenov, Tage Frid and such aren't deserving of the kudos bestowed on them, but to suggest that they're the only ones out there is silly.
I have visited enough wood shows to have seen some fabulous work, knowing that if some of these pieces had a 'Krenov' signature on it, the value would go way up, without anybody knowing that 'Krenov' didn't make it... IOW.. the stuff was good enough to have been built by any of the big names.
That tells me that Joni Mitchell's "Star Making Machinery" is alive and well in any industry/ art form.
Heavy on image and perception, weak on substance.
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1943 - 1990 - Created some of the most interesting furniture and architectural pieces of the middle and latter parts of the twentieth century. ...
In 1965 I had the good fortune to visit Nakashima and order a walnut coffee table --- one of the luckiest things I ever did. I still get pleasure seeing that table in our living room. A few years back we revisited the Nakashima studios and got a side table designed by his daughter, Mira. He taught her well.
You can visit Nakashima --- I think on Saturday mornings. The studio display is breath-taking. One warning ... Don't bring your credit card or checkbook ... the stuff is so seductive it's damn near impossible to leave without ordering something.
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About 20 years ago as an office equipment repairman, I was sitting in a law office in Easton, Pa waiting to be shown to the broken piece of equipment I was to service. Suspended on the wall in front of me were 5 large walnut slabs. Each had its own beautiful, wild figure without any straight grain. They were mounted to the wall from behind with short metal posts. Each slab was about 6 inches short of the floor and ceiling. They seemed to float in mid-air. I had recently started my very serious furniture building hobby. I had been taught to always seek out straight grained lumber and that anything else was practically "firewood." But I couldn't take my eyes off these incredible slabs. Each had its own personality. I commented to the receptionist how beautiful they were. She called the lawyer who owned the firm and he came out to meet me. He told me the slabs were made by a George Nakashima from New Hope. He then gave me a tour of his office where every piece of furniture was also made by Mr. Nakashima. From that moment I never looked at a slab of wood quite the same. Years later I bought The Soul of a Tree and Krenov's "The Impractical Cabinetmaker." Two years ago I was fortunate to take a class taught by Jere Osgood. Obviously there is much to learn from these master furniture builders. And though each is different in their approach, they all have a reverance for the medium. And while I doubt if I'll ever approach their level, I still take great joy in bringing order to nature's beautiful chaos by transforming a tree into a piece of furniture.
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