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There’s more to wood than meets the eye, particularly when that eye has a flair for the artistic.
That artistic bent will be on display Saturday, May 12 when students from Okanagan College’s Studio Woodworking program host their second annual exhibit, Raising the Grain, at the Tutt Street Gallery in Kelowna.
“This show is the product of eight months of work for these students,” said instructor Tim Diebert who has worked in high-end wood craftsmanship for decades, turning out custom guitars, furniture, spiral staircases, and even yacht interiors.
Visitors to the gallery will see a wide display of craftsmanship, with influences ranging from the contemporary back to the pivotal American Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s.
“These were important transition years when wood-based furniture design went from very fussy high detail to cleaner, softer, simpler, modern,” Diebert said. “It was the leaping off point to much of the design we know today.”
Pam Ehrecke, from Penticton, entered the 35-week full-time program after a lifetime spent pining to work with wood.
“I was a custom dressmaker, but I always had an interest in wood and I wasn’t encouraged to do it because I was a girl,” she said.
Now she, along with a dozen other students, will be at the show to share both their work, and their passion.
Ehrecke’s pieces include a Greene & Greene inspired telephone table, well-polished handcrafted boxes made of hardwood, and a veneered cube featuring the image of a scorpion made using marquetry techniques. The scorpion itself is made up of tiny pieces of wood that has been carefully burned using a technique called sand shading.
“The College here is so beautifully set up that I can learn anything I want, and none of us have been able to stump Tim yet,” she said.
“What I’m hoping is that the show opens people’s eyes to the fact that there are far more options for people who love wood than making kitchen cabinets,” said Diebert, who uses a collection of videos to show the work of masters from a variety of fields, most recently a harpsichord maker, just to make his point.
While the course is foundational, students come into it with a wide-range of experience. Some have entered directly from high school; others have been working in their home shop for years, creating highly complex pieces.
Diebert said no matter what, studio woodworking reflects a way of thinking as much as a practical skill.
“It’s really an attitude, a way of life,” he said. “People spend a lot of time on their pieces, and want to feel proud of the stuff that comes off their bench. Attending the show is a great way to support the students, who have worked so hard to bring their ideas to life.”
The show runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Tutt Street Gallery, 9 – 3045 Tutt Street, in Kelowna. Items displayed will be available for sale, and admission to the show is free.