"The High One" Mountain Dresser finalist for NICHE Award

I am so happy to announce that my mountain dresser ("The High One") has been selected as a top five finalist in the Student Wood Category for this year's NICHE Awards.  Over 600 entries from the US and Canada were submitted, and I am so happy to be among a group of students from such reputable schools. You can view all of the finalists at:  http://www.nicheawards.com/category/2014-finalists/students-2014-finalists/

To view more photos of the mountain dresser, go to:  http://aliciadietzwoodworking.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/the-high-one-mountain-dresser-takes-second-place-prize-in-woodworking-at-burlington-colleges-gumbo-show/

The High One mountain dresser
The High One mountain dresser

Final Photos of the Modern Glass Top Coffee Table

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Last year, I built a modern coffee table for a very good friend of mine in D.C.  The main concept was to have a coffee table that looked like one cohesive table, but was then able to pull apart and serve as two end tables when the apartment got crowded during large social gatherings. It is made up of multiple bent laminations (taking thin strips of wood and gluing them together to make a thicker piece that can then be more easily manipulated into a curved shape).

I wanted to play with the negative space of this piece, so I stacked the laminations on top of each other, with only a few spacers in between.

Over the next few weeks, I will post the progress and final pictures of this table.

This first photo is a full scale drawing of one of the "C" curves. Two "C" curves eventually fit together to form one "S" curve.

full scale drawing
full scale drawing

This table is made of Ash.  I specifically selected very straight grained boards so that the table would have a cohesive look.  I picked Ash because it is a very open-pored wood and the grain will stand out when finish was applied.  I will point this out on one of the final pictures.

the Ash before ripping
the Ash before ripping
the thin rips stacked on themselves
the thin rips stacked on themselves

After the wood was cut into 3/16" thin strips, I then glued 9 strips to make 1 large bend.  Below, you can see me gluing the strips and wrapping them with heavy duty stretch wrap (to help serve as a clamp) before putting them around my form.  With 12 different sized bends on the taller table and 10 bends on the smaller one, I decided to built an adjustable bending table so that I could adjust the radius for each bend without having to build 12 different forms.

the adjustable bending table with 2 different sized "C" curved shapes
the adjustable bending table with 2 different sized "C" curved shapes
I went through a gallon of glue after 22 bends (with 9 strips each)
I went through a gallon of glue after 22 bends (with 9 strips each)
wrapping up a bend... will get to pick the glue off of my hands later :-)
wrapping up a bend... will get to pick the glue off of my hands later :-)
slowly bending the wood around my form
slowly bending the wood around my form
waiting for glue to dry...
waiting for glue to dry...

This was the process for just 1 bend.  I did this 21 more times (ok, 22 more times...

After I took the bends out of the forms, I planed, scraped, and sanded them.  After they were all complete, I stacked them to see if all my math had worked out...

the 2 tables in very rough form
the 2 tables in very rough form

I then started playing with the spacers to see where I would position them...

testing different orientations for the small spacers
testing different orientations for the small spacers
making the spacers
making the spacers

I made a template to create a continuous curve for the spacers (above). For each table, I glued one bend at a time, using several bends below it to serve as clamping pressure for the spacers.

gluing up one table
gluing up one table

Now the real fun began... using an angle grinder and then a lot of sandpaper, I shaped the continuous curve starting with the inside of each table first, and then the outside. Below is a picture after just a few passes of the angle grinder.

just beginning to carve the inside curve
just beginning to carve the inside curve

...you can see the transformation from blocky, angular forms to smooth, subtle curves.

the spacers glued up, before shaping
the spacers glued up, before shaping
after some grinding
after some grinding
finally getting smooth
finally getting smooth

The coffee table ("Through the Looking Glass") is complete.  Here are the final steps in shaping and finishing and then some final shots :)

carving the bends
carving the bends
one bend complete, one not
one bend complete, one not

In the above photo, the right, smaller table has been completely shaped and sanded. The left, taller table has not. The two tables were designed to be different heights so that one piece of glass could fit inbetween the bends and the two glass tops would overlap.

Now the finishing process begins...

before staining
before staining
with one stained
with one stained
before the liming wax was applied
before the liming wax was applied
after liming wax was applied
after liming wax was applied

The excess liming wax was then scrubbed off with several coats of oil. Finally, polyurethane was applied to give a high gloss shine. This effect was a time-consuming process, but well worth the effort.

IMG_6459-2

with one stained #2IMG_6546-2I wanted to have nice, flowing curves that started and stopped in a perfectly vertical plane. This gives the illusion that the two tables are actually one when they are put together.

IMG_6558-2The tables can come together in a variety of ways, giving you the flexibility to customize the way they look.   The lines and the negative space work well together, creating shadows that are just as unique as the tables themselves.

IMG_6479IMG_6527-2IMG_6517-2They can even pull apart to serve as separate end tables.

IMG_6487And the best photos of all... the ones of the table in Patrick's home.  What a joy it was to deliver them, to set them up, and then to have a wonderful night of beer, games, laughs, and friends around them :)

the table in Patrick's house
the table in Patrick's house
love the shadows of his lights
love the shadows of his lights

ahhhh, finally the table is put to good use :)

finally being put to use!

**A special thanks to Amanda Lass for the amazing final photos of this piece.  To see more of her photography, go to:  http://alass.zenfolio.com/

Update #1 to Modern Glass Top Coffee Table

Here is an update to the modern glass coffee table... After I took the bends out of the forms, I planed, scraped, and sanded them.  After they were all complete, I stacked them to see if all my math had worked out...

the 2 tables in very rough form

I then started playing with the spacers to see where I would position them...

testing different orientations for the small spacers

making the spacers

I made a template to create a continuous curve for the spacers (above). For each table, I glued one bend at a time, using several bends below it to serve as clamping pressure for the spacers.

gluing up one table

Now the real fun began... using an angle grinder and then a lot of sandpaper, I shaped the continuous curve starting with the inside of each table first, and then the outside. Below is a picture after just a few passes of the angle grinder.

just beginning to carve the inside curve

...you can see the transformation from blocky, angular forms to smooth, subtle curves.

the spacers glued up, before shaping

after some grinding

finally getting smooth

Stay tuned for more progress of the finishing process.

If you want to see pictures from the earlier stages of this project, go to:  http://aliciadietzwoodworking.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/modern-curved-glass-top-coffee-table/

Modern Curved Glass Top Coffee Table

This past semester, I built a modern coffee table for a very good friend of mine in D.C.  The main concept was to have a coffee table that looked like one cohesive table, but was then able to pull apart and serve as two end tables when the apartment got crowded during large social gatherings. It is made up of multiple bent laminations (taking thin strips of wood and gluing them together to make a thicker piece that can then be more easily manipulated into a curved shape).

I wanted to play with the negative space of this piece, so I stacked the laminations on top of each other, with only a few spacers in between.

Over the next few weeks, I will post the progress and final pictures of this table.

This first photo is a full scale drawing of one of the "C" curves. Two "C" curves eventually fit together to form one "S" curve.

full scale drawing

This table is made of Ash.  I specifically selected very straight grained boards so that the table would have a cohesive look.  I picked Ash because it is a very open-pored wood and the grain will stand out when finish was applied.  I will point this out on one of the final pictures.

the Ash before ripping

the thin rips stacked on themselves

After the wood was cut into 3/16" thin strips, I then glued 9 strips to make 1 large bend.  Below, you can see me gluing the strips and wrapping them with heavy duty stretch wrap (to help serve as a clamp) before putting them around my form.  With 12 different sized bends on the taller table and 10 bends on the smaller one, I decided to built an adjustable bending table so that I could adjust the radius for each bend without having to build 12 different forms.

the adjustable bending table with 2 different sized "C" curved shapes

I went through a gallon of glue after 22 bends (with 9 strips each)

wrapping up a bend... will get to pick the glue off of my hands later :-)

slowly bending the wood around my form

waiting for glue to dry...

This was the process for just 1 bend.  I did this 21 more times (ok, 22 more times... I

Stay tuned for more progress of the finishing process.

If you want to see previous pictures, go to:  http://aliciadietzwoodworking.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/update-1-to-modern-glass-top-coffee-table/

Follow this blog to get more progress pictures:  http://aliciadietzwoodworking.wordpress.com/follow-blog/

Student Work: Legacy of an Instructor exhibit at Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center for month of May

frog hollow

I am pleased to announce that my mountain dresser, "The High One," will be on display for the month of May as part of the exhibit, Student Work: Legacy of an Instructor.  This show is in memory of Robert Fletcher, the Co-Founder and an Instructor of the Vermont Woodworking School.  As a student of Bob's, this show holds a special place in my heart.  I miss his instruction, his stories, and his bad jokes every day.  It is an honor to be part of such an incredible group of students displaying our work in his memory.

mountain dresser interior

The show will run from May 3 - June 3, 2013.

To see some images of mine and other students, go to: http://www.froghollow.org/content/our-gallery

Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center is located at 85 Chruch Street in downtown Burlington, VT.

The High One Mountain Dresser takes Second Place Prize in Woodworking at Burlington College's Gumbo Show

IMG_0759

This past weekend, my mountain dresser, named "The High One" won second place in woodworking at the Gumbo Show at Burlington College. This show featured over 150 artists showing beautiful work in painting, sculpture, film, music, literature, photography, wood, and mixed media. Here is a photo of my piece that won:

an overall view of the mountain dresser

Originally inspired by a photo of a silhouette of a rock climber, I wanted to build a dresser with a rock face profile. An Army friend of mine who summited Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska in 2008 served as the perfect excuse to build a dresser in the shape of a mountain.

interior of the mountain dresser showing ski skins, ropes, and various skiing and mountaineering equipment

This dresser, used to store climbing gear, is my interpretation of Denali, referred to as “The High One” in Athabascan. Wanting to immerse the viewer in the entire dresser, there is no external hardware. The crevice running down the entire front serves as the handles for the two main doors as well as hand holds for the two bottom drawers and the top hatchback door.

here you can see that the ski skin hangar and hooks to hang various equipment pull out for easy convenience

Carved using an angle grinder, the hills and valleys are not random. The front two doors are the topographical map of Denali and the Alaskan Range. The two peaks of Denali are seen on the left door; Muldrow Glacier and Ruth Amphitheater on the right. The actual topographical map is image transferred inside the bottom drawer.

topographical map on doors and crevice handle

The skyline of the Alaskan range is seen in two places. The first is the image transfer inside the top hatchback compartment. The second serves as the divide between the base and the bottom drawer. The two peaks of Denali are on the right just beside the crevice.

the bottom line is a skyline view of the Alaskan Range

the acutal Alaskan Range

The image transfer on the inside of the main compartment is a photo of Denali (copyright Bradford Washburn, courtesy Decaneas Archive). Mr. Washburn took many photographs throughout Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, and his images were routinely used to create maps.

Wanting to give the feel of a rock surface, I sandblasted and then oiled the entire dresser. Highlights were painted using gel stain (and channeling my inner Bob Ross).

Here you can see the texture that the sandblasting left on the wood.  All dark areas are painted with gel stain by hand.

both the top and bottom drawers have angled dovetails

I used this piece to explore different techniques such as angled dovetails, angle grinding, sandblasting, and the inclusion of multimedia with four different image transfers. It was a journey much like that of a mountain climber – I had a final destination in mind when I set out, but the lessons learned and my experiences along the journey proved to be the greatest reward.

** all photos credit Amanda Lass.  A big thank you, Amanda!  to see more of her photos, go to:  http://alass.zenfolio.com/

Interconnectivity High Relief Wood Carving

This sketch is how I saw an interconnectivity diagram.  The clusters of circles formed beautiful organic shapes that will transform nicely into a carving. the inspiration for a carving...

Just shortly after removing a lot of wood in the process of creating three levels.

just a few markings, then ready to remove a bunch of wood

After I removed a majority of the wood, I started carving with gouges to get the organic feel of the shapes.

blog 3

With a lot of the shaping done, it was time to sand the high spots smooth to prep them for the veins and circles I will hand carve next.

finally starting to get some definition

Had to get all of the main shapes worked out first...

smoothing out the forms

after the shapes finally got worked out, I was able to start veining the connectivity lines...

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and then just started to have fun with it. the veins started to remind me of fireworks...

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