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Rob Faulkner

Wood / Aberdeen, MS

Artist Statement

I try to create exceptionally made and finished wooden pieces using ethically and sensitively sourced wood and design principles displaying simplicity and an abiding reverence for traditional methods of construction.Since I love spending time outdoors, especially in wooded areas with old growth timber, I have always used wood as my medium. I love taking something that was once a growing, living thing and changing it into something of beauty for human use. I especially like exposing the grain and knots of wood, the marks of how the living tree adapted to its environment. I believe in reusing our natural resources and make every effort in my craft to use reclaimed wood and other metals, which has been all that I have worked with for the past several years. I love the patina of old reclaimed wood, especially heart pine and oak. I tear out this wood piece by piece from old buildings that are being demolished or are falling down due to neglect. I love taking antique wood which is over a hundred years old and repurposing it to give it life for another hundred years. It is old growth heartwood and is as solid as the history it represents.

I have recently moved my woodshop to accommodate a growing number of tools and to provide a secure drying environment for cut wood, such as walnut, which takes three months to dry. My shop is full of woodworking tools that I have accumulated over the years. The process of acquiring a collection was a slow and steady one. I do have many hand tools, lathes, sanders, chisels, hand planers, hand saws, and clamps, but what I really enjoy using are power tools. Some that I have collected over the years include a planer, a joiner, a band saw, a table saw, a biscuit joiner, a drill press, a reciprocating saw, a skill saw, several routers, lathes, orbital sanders, belt sanders, drills (110v and 18v), and an assortment of attachments and homemade jigs. This does seem to be a never-ending process. Lately, my tools of choice have included such 'low tech' items as a hammer and a nail-puller, as these are the implements needed to salvage usable antique wood from old warehouses, barns, and houses, and remove the rusty nails which give the wood such beautiful character markings. Although I like the feel of hand planing and hand sanding and will usually do the final sanding on a project by hand, I prefer the sound of power tools and the quickness with which I can remove stock. When multiple parts are called for in a design, I will make jigs to insure accuracy without sacrificing speed. I always hand wax and buff the finishes of my pieces to ensure a good hand, the name woodcrafters give to the way a piece of wood feels to the touch.

I usually do not like to work from existing plans. I prefer to do rough sketches and then use proportional sizes based on simple geometry to create designs. Whenever possible, I start out with rough sawn, salvaged wood, plane it down to size and go from there. Nearly all of my early work with wood was self-taught and featured the liberal use of trial and error. Even though I have read many magazines and articles and have taken several seminars and classes, I will still usually fall back on techniques that I have used and feel comfortable with. I prefer clean lines and simple designs that have good proportions to overly complicated pieces. My goal is to keep my projects simple, yet elegant. Simplicity is deceiving, however; I have found that the hours of effort put into a work of art oftentimes are not reflected in the finished piece’s look of simplicity. In fact, it seems the simpler a piece is, the more work I must actually put into it because there are fewer design elements and the few that there are must be elegant and proportional.
Of course, finishing really makes wood beautiful. As I grew more skilled, the feel or the hand of the wood became more important and I began to read, study and learn from masters in finishing. I learned how to apply stain to highlight grain rat

Biography

Born in 1956, I am a proud army brat who grew up all over the world. I knew that I would always make things, as my earliest experiences are of putting things together. After graduating from high school and serving in the US Coast Guard, where I did more traveling and learning about the world, I moved back to Aberdeen, Mississippi, my family's home for many generations. Here I attended college and worked in a family business. I later found an artistic home at the Penland School of the Arts at Penland, North Carolina, where I took formal classes in furniture making and design and studied traditional wood crafting. I crafted one-of-a-kind furniture for many years, but have recently changed the scale of my work to the very small, to jewelry, which to me is a much more personal, wearable experience with wood and other natural elements than that provided by furniture. I have been an exhibiting member of the Mississippi Craftsmen's Guild since 2008, and my works have been displayed in art festivals all across the country via Let It Be Yours Jewelry Company.