This past week I made a quick trip to the east coast for some family gatherings. For quite some time I have wanted to visit a furniture maker up there, so with a quick search, I found that his shop was only 2 hours and 20 minutes from where I was. For a Texan this is right around the corner!
We left in the morning and drove north, to the little town of Easthampton, Massachusetts. Right on Union Street is a lovely old brick building with the address inscribed in gold lettering hanging high above arched windows. A master’s shop, and I could hardly wait to meet him!
Silas Kopf is a true artist with wood. He specializes in a branch of woodworking called marquetry. Marquetry is the art of taking different species of wood veneer and creating pictures out of them. In other words you are painting with wood.
I have seen many different marquetry artists, but I will say that Silas is one of the best in capturing true real life scenes. Seeing pictures of his work, you would think that you were looking at a painting. He has done many stunning pictures, several portraits, as well as several humorous scenes. Here is a picture of the front of his tool box!
I was able to spend about 2 hours with him in the shop, talking about woods and methods. He is making a bookshelf for a client at the moment, with a rather humorous scene of a golfer.
While I was there, he glued up the veneer on a curved panel. He also showed me his technique of cutting the marquetry which is a method called double bevel cutting. You cut two pieces of marquetry simultaneously in which the scroll saw is positioned on an angle. When you cut it in this way the angle of the cut compensates for the kerf of the blade, thus allowing for a perfect fit every time.
Silas has a great book called, “A Marquetry Odyssey”. He also has a DVD in which he shows different methods of work. You can see more about his work and publications here on his website. Note the huge marquetry picture behind us, that is all inlaid wood that is totally flat!
Stay tuned for the next post will be about my next stop, a museum in New York City which houses some of the finest marquetry. There is a room there at the museum in which Silas has obtained inspiration for some of his works.
That is amazing work. It is fun to see all the different ways a person can be a “master” woodworker. Yet I guess noone can be a master of them all. I want to hear the story behind that press, looks like an heirloom for sure.