Furniture exhibit celebrates craftsmanship

Furniture exhibit celebrates craftsmanship
A reproduction 18th century tambour desk takes the best of show award at the WOOD: A Furniture Show VIII,” from woodworker Bob Stevenson. The show runs through Feb. 4. Courtesy photo

ESCONDIDO — It may have been luck that Bob Stevenson inherited his great-great grandfather’s woodworking tools, but it was hard work and Palomar College’s Cabinet & Furniture Technology (CFT) Program that turned Stevenson into a master woodworker.

Wood artisans, like Stevenson not only make pieces that are aesthetically pleasing, their handcrafted furniture has to function and withstand things like gravity and time.

Stevenson’s award-winning period furniture is part of an exhibit featuring close to 30 fine woodworkers from throughout Southern California.

In its eighth year, WOOD, A Furniture Show VIII, hosted by Brian Murphy of Murphy’s Fine Woodworking, in association with the San Diego Fine Woodworking Association is on display through Feb. 4 at the Escondido Municipal Gallery.

The exhibit features a variety of handcrafted furniture including contemporary, traditional, art furniture, as well as veneering and marquetry.

“People love to see what you can do with wood,” said Stevenson.

More than just a visual experience, the show is also a tactile one. Unless the piece says not to touch, feel the wood and how the joints are crafted.

The variety of styles and technical expertise make it worth a visit, according to Gallery Manager Beatriz Esparragoza.

“Each piece is very unique,” said Esparragoza. “Each woodworker put a lot of thought and effort into the design and craftsmanship.”

This is the first year that the show included furniture by students attending Stevenson’s alma mater. The show features work by eight students in Palomar College’s CFT Program, including Justin Yasgoor who’s work titled, “Bridging the Gap” took First Place in Design.

Started in 1956, the Palomar College Cabinet and Furniture Technology program offers one of the most comprehensive woodworking curriculums in the nation, with courses ranging from Furniture Design to Timber Framing, and from Guitar building to Production Cabinetmaking.

After retiring from the military, Stevenson enrolled in the CFT Program at Palomar College. “I’ve always had a desire to build things,” he said.  He considers Palomar College’s program to be among the best woodworking programs. “They bring you up through the basics,” he said.

As if being in the furniture business for 40 years wasn’t enough, Stevenson led the “Design in Wood” Show at the Del Mar Fair for 20 years. An annual juried exhibition, the “Design in Wood” Show is put on by the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association at the San Diego County Fair. Staffed by volunteers, artisans demonstrate old and new techniques of woodworking.

The woodworking community in the San Diego region is thriving, according to Stevenson. “We have one of the largest woodworking guilds in the country.”

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