j palmer johnson fine woodworking
Craftsmanship has always fascinated and intrigued me. I remember as a child crawling under and playing with a stool that my father had made from left-over pieces of a mirror and thinking, “He made that.” He took a board, shaped, joined and finished it, and created something of value. Functional certainly, but also beautiful in its honesty of construction. An early birthday gift was a bag of nice hardwood scraps, some glue and nails. Those early projects instilled an interest in the craft of woodworking; not just making something, but trying to make it well.
I am very fortunate to have had exceptional mentors and a variety of experiences in my 25+ years as a woodworker. From my first shop teachers who would let me build whatever I wanted and allow me access to the shop in my free time, to the master craftsman who hired me at age 16 and taught me freely and patiently for nearly 20 years. From the instructors at The School for American Crafts at RIT where I completed my BFA in Woodworking and Furniture Design, to the foremen and co-workers at the architectural mill shop where I was lead cabinetmaker and project manager. From the private woodworking instruction I have provided to the four years I taught Introduction to Woodworking electives at RIT. Through these various experiences, I have absorbed skills, techniques and practices. It is this constant growth as a craftsman that I am truly passionate about.
I see my role as a craftsman. I love the word and try not to get too caught up in discussions of art versus craft. I am happiest in the building of beautiful, durable, and functional objects and take real pride in knowing that the things that I build will outlast me, sometimes by generations. I enjoy building things of my own design and am continually trying new ideas in the studio. That said, the most challenging, difficult, and as a result the most rewarding projects have been in collaboration with others; whether it has been with an Architect or Designer in realizing their vision from AutoCAD drawings to finished product, working directly with customers to make their existing space more their own, or by indirectly working with a long-passed craftsman as I repair and restore his work. Collaborating with others pushes my skills in ways that drawing from my own design/craft repertoire does not. Every project and customer is different, and each presents their own set of parameters and needs. Fulfilling those, solving the problem, is what I am happiest doing.
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