who i am

kelly_parkerMy work is all about transformation and discovery: transformation of the wood from a rough board to the final object; my personal transformation as I struggle with the details to pull off my latest crazy idea; discoveries I make as I start working with a particular board; and discoveries my audience makes when they start exploring my pieces.  I create objects that are dense in details and I want people to delight in them — the colors, the textures, the satiny-smooth feel of the finished surface.

dense in detailI start by revealing the wood. The lumber I buy has rough bandsaw marks and may be dirty or stained from being outside —pretty uninspiring! So my first discovery as an artist occurs when I clean the surface to reveal the hidden beauty below this patina. That’s when I start getting creative as I plan on how to best show off lush grain, an amazing knot or other unique features that particular board has to offer. Knots, splits and bark are what allow the wood to tell its story but they are often defined as ‘defects’ by other woodworkers. I consider them beauty marks!

Finally, the wood itself is important to me. I love old wood — wood with a soul and a story. I prefer found wood, reclaimed wood or wood given as a gift from a tree that must be cut down.  I won’t buy hormone-injected, tree-farmed lumber. It isn’t as strong, isn’t as pretty, has no soul and has no story. And this story is important to me. I write ‘the story’ for every piece I make — where the wood came from, my process, my inspiration, etc. I believe knowing this story creates a stronger bond between an object and its owner.

Check out my work •here•.

my journey

counters 4_web

I started woodworking when I was in high school at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science.  There woodworking was taught out of the art department and wasn’t considered a shop class.  This is where I developed a love of wood and tools and working with my hands.  I even won some scholastic competitions.  After high school I earned a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas.  I spent most of my corporate career working as a chemist.  Even though I no longer had access to woodworking tools, I always seemed to find construction projects: a deck or a dock or a garage.  Eventually I got to help build a house.  Then my husband and I built our house.  We did a lot of the rough-in work and almost all of the finish work.  When we started trimming the house, it started feeling like I was back in high school – a little more artistic consideration is needed when choosing trim styles, wood, etc.  Then we built wooden counter tops and walnut hand rails.  I didn’t want the edges of either of these to look like they’d come off a production line, so I spent many hours with a spoke shave contouring the edges. built our house I wanted them to look and feel like someone had run their hands over them a million times!  So while building the house I went from pretty rough work (framing) to pretty nice work (trimming) to really nice work (counter tops and hand rails) and it renewed the passion I have for wood.  A few years later, several seemingly small events occurred that made me take the leap from a relatively secure, well-compensated corporate job into what has become my new life: creating beautiful objects out of an amazing raw material.

Although I am largely self-taught and spend lots of time experimenting, I have complimented my knowledge with formal classes.  I have completed the Masters Program at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and am currently working on the Fellowship Program.  I have taken a wide range of classes including Design, Joinery, Finishing and many more.  I owe much gratitude to my mentors, Michael Fortune and David Polivka, for guiding me and answering an untold number of questions.  I have also had the great privilege of interning with David.  Finally, I offer my thanks and love to my husband, Rick, for supporting me on this journey!

~~kelly

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