Oak Desk

Standing Mirror

Donna's Bench

Quilted Bed

Telephone Cabinet

Bedside Stands

Baker Coffee Table

Murray's Red Tables

Paula's Book Cabinet

Mom's Desk

Copper Chair

Bedside Tables

Anniversary Bed

Cherry Cabinet

AKING FURNITURE is an important part of my creative process. This work is also a source of valued income. Like sculpture, it is in the round. Proportionally, furniture is human-scaled, which is easy to relate to. I created my first piece, "Cherry Cabinet" as a gift for my wife's doll collection. Presently the cabinet is in my parent's dining room housing glass heirlooms, and the dolls have been disbanded. Things may change, but a functional object can always find a new home.

his work was a therapeutic response to college (including graduate school) where I didn't learn how to build anything well. Craft was belittled and, in fact, considered meaningless by many of my instructors. This was something I never agreed with. So upon receiving my Master's Degree in Sculpture, I embarked upon a self-taught education in furniture design and construction. I used to subscribe to many woodworking magazines and procured a large volume of books on the subject... and just started to build what was needed.

reating a functional object is an important aspect of furniture making that requires mechanical workability, wearability, and general usefulness in its design. These challenges are satisfying on several levels. First is the reward of solving a problem. Second, knowing that the piece is designed for generations of use (rather than the 5-10 year lifespan of most production furniture). And last, making something that the user considers a part of their life and home is important to me personally because of a sad truth. Sometimes non-functional fine art gets put away, lost, discarded, slashed up, or even winds up on the wall at a Salvation Army, as it is replaced by other pieces of art. I have a few stories I could tell.

y latest pieces, completed in January of 2009, are "Bedside Tables", which match the design of "Anniversary Bed", all constructed from Jatoba. The bed was a gift for my wife on our 20th anniversary, and the stands were for her birthday from me and my son Sam. He helped design and construct them, which was a joy. We've had a sleeper couch, a futon, a waterbed, a California King mattress, a used queen-sized spring mattress, and now have a Tempurpedic foam mattress that needed strong support. Our bed supports have been: a stack of bamboo flooring, the floor itself, metal frames, and you-name-it. Sometime around 1996, I designed and built a bedframe out of Honduras Mahogany, but we needed money and sold it to friends. We had no money to take photos, but the design can be seen above in digital form ("Quilted Bed"). This was the only time I used the computer to design a piece of furniture. It is much easier to design on paper.

ames Yonts, an artist and friend often teams with me on commission pieces, as with "Murray's Red Tables", "Baker Coffee Table", and "Tea Ceremony Set" (which is an homage to George Nakashima). James helped me with "Anniversary Bed" as well. We enjoy producing furniture projects that are creative, but have done lots of other work together as well, such as bathroom and kitchen remodels, decks, etc. They are not very fun, but do provide income. Both of us would prefer to work only in the shop and studio, never to take out a reciprocating saw or gas powered auger again. James' personal artwork is best described as "wearable sculpture". They are complex, internally lit, skillfully machined and constructed pieces that can be worn out on the town. Some refer to them jewelry, but only in scale.

WOODWORK, April 2000

wrote an article for WOODWORK magazine entitled, "A Marriage of Fine Art and Furniture". It is about my "Bedside Stands". And no, that is not me on the cover. They incorporate pastel drawing, picture framing, and cabinetry in a way that share all skills equally. I built these pieces for my wife and I, but we eventually moved into a house that had no room for them. I sold them to a former student. Since then, we have gained the space back, so I built the new set of bedside tables!

pecial credit goes to Tom Chown for photographing most of these pieces. Thanks Tom!

All Images and designs Copyright © Michael McGinnis

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