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Michael Childs

Studio Information

Special Location Or Visiting Instructions

By Appointment Only – on display at the gallery

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About The Artist

Artist Statement

Michael Childs

I strive to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, and, by so doing, transform the world around me. My work is esthetic, art, unique, functional, whimsical, and beautiful. My intention is to enhance the quality of our lives.

I take a minimalist approach to woodworking, preferring to highlight the beauty of the wood rather than virtuosic technique.When I took a break to make and sell visual art,  I returned to woodworking after eight years with a fresh vision of furniture design. After years of rendering the human figure, I wanted legs to look like legs. Why be bound by tradition?  I wanted to design a table that had never been done before. Why not start legs in one place and place their feet elsewhere, as long as they all landed on the ground and held up the top? What would happen?  I built a small table with that concept and noticed that the table seemed to be walking, thus the Walking Table. I’ve been making variations on that concept for the past 18 years with no end in sight.

The stools’ design began from a commission from the 2006 MOS for 3 walnut carved seat stools. The design evolved over the years to its current format.

Biography

Biography  I was born in Philadelphia, PA, in 1941. I opened my first shop in 1971. I’ve been a professional woodworker since, taking on commissions of all kinds, designing and building. I moved cross country in 1975, settling in Oakland, CA. Since 2005, I’ve been producing original pieces which have been well received by jurors and the public. In 2010, I moved to the Los Angeles Area where I live with a lovely woman and an adorable little dog. My two wonderful sons, whom I raised as a single dad, live nearby. Awards, etc. I have won 15 awards for woodworking and poetry, most notably: 1st place in Woodworking at the 2008 California State Fair for the original Walking Table, 1st prize in Large Tables and 3rd prize in Studio Art Furniture at the 2014 and 2019 Orange County Fairs, 3rd prize at the 2018 California State Fair where, in 2019, I won 1st prize and Judges Choice for the purple heart table. In 2020, the purple heart table won 2nd Prize in Sculpture at the Beverly Hills Art Festival. Last year I built 20 stools for a listening bar in San Diego and I was commissioned to build 4 barstools for a client from Hawaii whom I had never met. Sight unseen and after 8 months, they were completed and shipped. The client is very happy with them. Also, six of my pieces are going to be featured as the handiwork of Jennifer Garner in a upcoming TV series where she portrays a woodworker.

Contact Information

Artist Full Name
Contact Email Address
Phone

(415) 828-9663

Exhibitions & Press

Group Exhibitions

First place in Woodworking at the 2008 and 2019 California State Fair
First place in Large Tables at the 2014 Orange County Fair                                      Second place in Sculpture at the virtual 2020 Beverly Hills Garden Art Show    Second place 2005 Marin County Fair                                                                  Exhibited with the American Craft Show, Roy Helms Contemporary Crafts Shows, Saratoga Rotary Art Shows, KPFA Art Show, MOS 2006, 2021, 2023           Pasadena Artist Society 2010 – 2022, and more.

Awards

First place in Woodworking at the 2008 and 2019 California State Fair
First place in Large Tables at the 2014 Orange County Fair                                      Second place in Sculpture at the virtual 2020 Beverly Hills Garden Art Show     Second place 2005 Marin County Fair

Education

Description

I am essentially a self taught woodworker, starting with making a balsa wood WWII fighter from a kit when I was around 5, in 1946. My mother trusted me to use the sharp tools I needed to cut out the parts from thin sheets of balsa wood and to carve  solid blocks to look like airplanes. My 9 year old friend, Carl, was my mentor and my inspiration. I made models of airplanes, cars and boats until the age of 16, all out of wood, sometimes wood and paper. Finally, I acquired a real boat, an old 23′ motor launch, with an antique hand-started engine and a mentor, a genuine old-timer who taught me about boating and marine carpentry. The boat bug bit me. It was 1959 and I’m on my fifth wooden boat.

When my then-wife was pregnant with our daughter, I wanted to build her a cradle. I purchased some plans and some equipment to build the fine furniture I couldn’t afford to buy. A friend enlisted me to build the shelves and seating for a small bookstore. My woodworking career had begun. It was 1971.

One of my first projects was a commission from the local Episcopal diocese to duplicate one of their pews for a chapel in North Myrtle Beach, where we had recently moved.  It was about 6′ long and heavy. I built it in our screened in porch and delivered it, proud of my accomplishment. The next Monday, the priest called me up to say that there was loud report, like a gunshot, during the service. The seat had separated from the back explosively and would I come and fix it. In my ignorance, I had merely glued the two pieces together with a strong but brittle glue without nails or screws. That’s when I learned about flexible glues versus brittle glues. I reglued the joint with the right glue and nailed the back to the seat. It’s still going strong after 40 years.

Basically, I learn from my mistakes. My best work will never be seen. I opened up a shop in the area. Within a year, I was the go-to fine woodworker in town. I went on to work with top-notch interior designers, repairing furniture for an insurance company, restoring antiques for antique dealers, designing and building furniture for individuals,  pews and a 6′ illuminated cross for local churches, cabinets and office furniture for the largest furniture store at the time; special projects like a bedroom with a mirrored wall with a cut-out for a mirrored door, a 3′ diameter walnut display cabinet for the Meher Baba Center and a teak office for the Myrtle Beach Hilton, the first multi-storey building at the time. It was 1974. Then the oil embargo happened and all the jobs dried up. I went from 5 employees to one in a matter of three weeks.

The next year, I moved to the West Coast to be near my children where my soon-to-be-ex-wife had moved. We found a snug bungalow in Oakland and I set up shop in the garage. The work changed. I worked more on houses and boats than I had in Myrtle Beach. I acquired more skills, like interior finish work, stair making, door making and installation, window making, drywall installation, wooden tub making, plumbing and tiling, and the occasional furniture piece. I helped a property owner refurbish a three story house and built a handcart with wooden wheels for a sidewalk flower merchant. I was busy working on the bits and pieces that boats require. The apogee of this line of boat carpentry was designing and building the deckhouse windows for a 78′ dragger, at the time the largest wooden boat built in the Bay area in fifty years or so . The job was so large and  complex, it took my partner and I three months to build it. The year was 1978.

In 1980, we moved to Marin County where I pursued a completely different line of work.

 

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