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Online, The Artist Within, Vale Craft Gallery in Chicago
David Calvin

“I enjoy being able to express creativity through wood. It has such marvelous characteristics, the smell, the grain, the feel and the joinery all contribute to this inspiration.”

You won’t see a “Please don’t touch” sign where David Calvin sells his custom furniture and fine accessories. In fact, he hand rubs varnish, oil finish and wax so that his pieces invite touching.

He’s been honing his designs and techniques for 40 years, and his interest in wood predates that.

“I have always had an interest in wood and woodworking,” said David, who holds a bachelor’s degree in wood science and technology. “Following college, I got a taste of the rewards of custom furniture while working in a small shop making all kinds of custom pieces. After working in several jobs in the wood products industry, my longtime dream of making custom furniture became a reality 15 years ago.”

David sees a plank of wood much like a painter views a blank canvas. His eye is drawn to angles, subtle curves and the way it reflects light.

“Because wood has different fiber direction and is cut in different planes in relation to the growth rings, the light reflecting from the surface can change with the viewing angle and the orientation of the grain,” he explained. “A curly or wavy figure flipping from light to dark, depending on the direction you look at it, is an example. This provides design opportunities using grain orientation and riftsawn, quartersawn and plainsawn woods. By using angles like facets of a cut stone, the reflectance and grain changes. I incorporate this in boxes, box handles, clocks and trays.”

David uses Indiana woods, many from his hometown Muncie area, in his work, and no two pieces are alike. He might make more than one box or serving tray designed similarly, but different woods, pulls and colors make each piece one of a kind, “Matching and orienting grain, attention to texture and feel, and original designs all blend to create a unique product,” he said.

Styles from Scandinavia, Asia and the Arts and Crafts movement have left a visible impact on the Delaware County artisan, although his designs and many of his techniques are his own. Some customers have characterized his work as Zen like.

“One technique I use in boxes is to cut all four sides out of a single piece of wood,” David continued. “This lets the grain pattern wrap all the way around the box and provides a subtle flow between the sides. Splines in the corners of the boxes provide accent and strength to the mitered joint. Clocks often arise from certain shaped scraps that guide me to the final design.”

His love for wood is obvious in each of David’s pieces. It is his family’s love and support of him that he credits for his success as he looks to Indiana Artisan for opportunities in marketing, brand recognition and peer support.

“It is an honor to be in the company of so many talented and diverse artisans,” he said. “The peer recognition through the jury process is encouraging.”