The Reality Institute

Tree Table Fable by Zac Shaw

I’ve always thought that furniture was great. Now, I know it is. Zac Shaw is making some kick ass furniture at the Rhode Island School of Design because he wannas:

“I’ve attached pictures of one of the tables I made this summer so that you have an idea of what I’ve been up to. I’ll send you more once I get some pictures of it in front of some sort of a back drop.

I made it by cutting up 3 8 foot cherry planks into little circles and then gluing them all together 3 at a time (it took a couple of days).

Once they were all glued together, I carved out the shape with an angled grinder, which only took 2 or 3 days.

Then I rasped, filed and sanded it for 6 or 7 days. Sanding and filing sucked, but it was worth it once I put the finish on…”

Here’s Zac’s story about becoming Furniture Man:

“I went to a Quaker high school that required everyone to take an art class every year that counted the same as a normal class. I took two years of ceramics, a year of film and then furniture design my senior year. The woodshop there was really amazing, and the teacher was great– he let us design and make our own stuff without too many requirements or rules. The pictures are of a table I made in high school; I think the assignment was to design and make something that incorporated a letter in it somewhere. Anyways, I was planning on continuing to do furniture stuff after high school, but it just didn’t work out. I painted houses the summer after I graduated from high school, then lived in Colombia for five months, and then my plan was to work for a carpenter for the rest of my year off, but no one wanted to hire a kid who would only be around for 6 months, so I ended up working at a bookstore instead. Someone in the admissions office at Oxy told me that they had a great woodshop that was open to students, which was part of the reason I went to Oxy, but obviously that wasn’t the case, so I stopped doing it for a while. I worked in the summers as a construction grunt, but construction is totally different from furniture.

Anyways, after Oxy I still wanted to do music, so I kind of looked at my jobs as day jobs rather than careers, and my thinking was that if I was going to do a job just for money, I might as well do something that paid decently. Last winter I finally had to confront the fact that music wasn’t working out at all and that I should really find something that I enjoyed doing (all of the jobs I had worked had made me pretty miserable), and I really couldn’t think of anything at all that I wanted to do until one day I stumbled across an ad for a furniture maker and suddenly remembered all all of my old plans. So that’s a long answer to a short question.

Furniture making is totally sweet, but it’s hard to do much with wood without a lot of equipment. I think that the easiest way to get access to equipment is usually to take classes, but I couldn’t find any in LA, which is why I ended up back on the east coast. But I’m sure that there are places, and you can always approach it from a less traditional angle, too, and get around the equipment issue. I love to talk about this stuff, so we should totally talk about it more next weekend.


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