One of the remarkable things about Philadelphia and this residency is how many amazing field trips are possible – the area is lousy with woodworkers, woodworking history, museums and galleries, and it becomes a race to try and see everything!  The Center set up two days of amazing field trips for us this summer, and we started by heading North, up to Bucks County of an incredible tour of the Nakashima studios generously guided by Mira Nakashima herself.  After a morning full of beautiful architecture, furniture and the most stunning collection of wood slabs I’ve ever seen, we ate lunch and then headed over to Mark Sfirri’s home and studio to talk to him about his practice.  Mark ran the woodworking program at Bucks County Community College for years, and has an art and woodworking practice that incorporates turning, carving and construction with illustrative sensibilities and a great eye for color.  And he’s hilarious.  I hope everyone reading this knows his work, but if not: check it out here on his website before you do anything else.

Arriving at Nakashima Woodworkers!

Introductions in the Chair Studio with Jon and Mira.

A space takes on the shape of the work done in it – here the benches have grooves cut into them to hold spindles as they’re shaped.

Mira tells stories better than almost anyone – and we were all amazed by the collection of slabs and wood.

Did I mention the wood collection?? Incredible.

After lunch we drove to Mark’s home studio, where he had several projects set up to talk about his process and how he thinks backwards from joinery to turning, to make sure he has what he needs structurally. So darned smart!

We were all enchanted by the work and the space.

Mark is actually the most organized human I have ever met.

There wasn’t a bad spot to take a picture in his whole shop.

Across the lawn, Mark has a beautifully renovated Philadelphia farm house, full of good light, furniture and art. Here he is sharing the table and chairs he made as part of his thesis work at RISD.

You’d never know who lives here, really.

Mark has a head for details and stories – it was so much fun to hear him talk about his collection!!