Greenwoodworking is a way of working with wood that eschews industrial processing of the material. It is a slow process that relies on splitting and shaving wet wood, rather than sawing, drying, or planing. It fosters a deep structural and aesthetic engagement with the fibers of the tree, integrating the cellular and biological characteristics of the tree into the structural logics of the built object. This creates an intimacy with raw material that parallels the relationship created between the human body and a chair. After many years of working with wood using more conventional techniques, this method of working has felt revelatory to me. The process of sourcing material, the longevity of the object as determined by its craftsmanship, and the way the chair supports the body, all lead me to contemplate sustainability and enliven my relationship to both material and ecosystem, even as the project asks me to confront my complicity in the cutting of a tree. I've sought the expertise of master green woodworkers throughout the process, and am deeply grateful for the knowledge they have shared.
Traditional green woodworking was the province of folk craftspeople, but it attracted a new audience starting in the 1960's due to the work of counter-cultural practitioners including Jennie Alexander, Drew Langsner, Peter Follansbee, and many others. My study of chairs and chairmaking has been deepened by an ongoing Maker-Creator Fellowship at the Winterthur Museum, where I examined and measured historic chairs, and explored the papers of Jennie Alexander. I'm also inspired and influenced by Galen Cranz's analysis of the often dysfunctional relationship between the human body and the design of the chair in Western culture. My desire is to connect to and critically engage the intimate relationship between colonialism, deforestation, and furniture making through my research, both academic and experiential.