Sneak Peeks: Against the Grain

January 12, 2012

By Jared Ainscough

When our office was located in Newton, the Watertown library was a little ways down the street. One day I borrowed a book called Understanding Wood by R. Bruce Hoadley. It was an oversized illustrated text about all things wood–from how trees grow to how to take care of wooden furniture and what can go wrong when it ages. I was so enamored with the story of wood that I kept the book out far too long, and eventually ended up buying it from the library. (I also think they banned me from borrowing any other books.)

Someone who shares my fascination with wood is Stephen Staples from Creative Art Furniture in Plainville, Mass. “Creative†and “art†describe Staples’s work pretty accurately. He can make beautiful furniture from just about any antique piece he can get his hands on. He has a great eye for the potential of wood.

Photos courtesy of Stephen Staples

The pieces he has become renowned for are his hand-turned bowls. What makes these pieces so amazing are the pieces of wood he starts with. The trick is, he begins with the most gnarly, knotted piece of wood he can find–a spot where a tree has split or a stump that was cut and healed over for centuries. When the exterior is stripped away, the bowl that is left has an amazing texture that can almost look like marble. Each piece is a surprise–unique and beautiful.

See more of Staples’s work when we visit his showroom as our March/April issue’s Design Destination.