BY LARA DUNNING
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
August 31, 2016
Don Bundy sits at his woodworking bench with a partially carved bird resting on a block of wood. He supports this bird-to-be with his right hand and carves with his left, a method he devised after a serious motorcycle accident resulted in the loss of use of his right hand due to extensive nerve damage. An array of woodworking tools and a picture of the bird he’s bringing to life are nearby.
“I like to get to know the character of my subject,” Bundy said. “Your product is much better if you know your subject well.” During our conversation, he tells me about his Woodpalooza piece, “Bullware’s Storm Petrel.” This small bird, which lives almost its entire life at sea, has an unusual protrusion on its beak that filters salt.
I also learned that bird carvers typically use a wood called Tupelo; it’s softer and has no visible grains, which can interfere with extremely fine feathers.
An intimate conversation like this is one of the highlights of attending this weekend’s woodworking exhibition, “Art + Wood = Woodpalooza.” Craftsmanship can be experienced up-close, and artists are happy to talk about their process and craft.
The free exhibition takes place over Labor Day weekend at Zech Hall at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts on Camano Avenue in Langley. The event kicks off with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2 and continues through Monday, Sept. 5 from noon to 5 p.m.
Work from 16 woodworkers will be exhibited in an all-black room and each artist’s work will sit on a white pedestal, highlighted with lights. “It really makes the wood pop,” said Gary Leake, Whidbey Island Woodworkers Guild Secretary. “The venue looks like it should be in Seattle.”
Artists include David Gray, Bruce Schwager, Christine Schwager, Don Bundy, Gary Leake, Gordy Edberg, Janet Lewis, Jim Short, John Shinneman, Karl Nielson, Marian Quarrier, Mike Scott, Pat McVay, Rick Pitt, Wilson Binger and Mike Freal.
“We started Woodpalooza to educate the public about what woodworkers do and why it’s an important art form,” Leake said. “We also wanted to create a place that would encourage youth to explore the craft of woodworking.”
Woodworkers Bruce and Christine Schwager have been involved since the show’s inception 13 years ago. In the past, Christine has carved images of Pacific Northwest shells, such as oysters, abalones and sea snails. This year, her representation of a Pacific Madrone “Giant Clam” shell is from South Pacific waters. “I love collecting sea shells, and I love wood,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do this one.” The woodworking duo has been in business for over 42 years at Schwager Design and Construction; they also create custom doors, furniture, cabinets and architectural woodwork.
“Woodpalooza” showcases many diverse types of woodworking, including Rick Pitt’s wooden rocking chairs; Mike Scott’s partially scorched “Cube” carved from maple and burl; and and Janet Lewis’s mahogany and pau ferro guitar, “Bird on a Wire Concert Guitar.” Other woodworkers carve sculptures; build, restore and refinish furniture; and create clocks and bowls. Clearly, each member of the guild may have a particular niche, but they all share one thing in common—their love of wood.
To learn more about “Woodpalooza” and the artists, visit the website at http://www.woodpalooza.com/.
Image at top: Rick Pitt puts an extra wax coating on his chair to get it ready for the show. (photo by David Welton)
Lara Dunning is enthusiastic about small town living, and you can read about her discoveries at Small Town Washington. She has been published in Bainbridge Island Magazine, Explore Anacortes and the WaggonerGuide.com. Her interests include young adult novels, history, hiking and locavore-inspired food.
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