An independent day school serving grades K-12 | St. Paul, MN

Bill Hollinshead '60


I was shaping wood before first grade at the Junior School, and I have always thought of myself as a woodworker, rather than "artist." I make furniture and children's vehicles from the hardwoods that grow on or near our land in SE Massachusetts: mostly black cherry, black walnut, white oak, ash, and some maple, hickory, even butternut and sassafras. My shop is in the old barn behind our very old house, and it stores far too much sawn wood drying and waiting for my next project.

In recent decades, I've been more focused on furniture design, attending workshops with Sam Maloof, Jere Osgood, David Haig, Peter Korn, and other luminaries of the Craft Furniture Movement. I am especially interested in bending wood into curves, by steaming, lamination, and/or carving. I sketch many preliminary ideas, then often build a maquette full size, using air-dried ash. Making also starts with a careful look at each plank, watching for knots and flaws, but also for the grains and textures that add to wooden pieces. Chairs are a particular challenge, being the negative image of the curved human body, and tightly constrained by the boundaries of comfort... seat height and depth, back angle and shape, arm placement. I have spent many hours exploring how people fit into the shapes I can make. My tables and carts for kids usually have curves, too.

One small piece is displayed in the gallery, a child's ride called The Hippogryph's Fawn, laminated of cherry, walnut, and ash. This fawn goes with a much larger bent laminated Hippogryph Table (after Buckbeak in Harry Potter) which is shown in the album. Also in the photo album is the Stair Table, cut from solid cherry with curves in all three dimensions, and the oval Display Table made by "bricklaid" laminations. My chairs are all steam bent. Mary calls Chair #5 klismos chair. It is in a series that includes Rehoboth Elastic Chair #10, inspired by the bent "elastic chairs" made in Boston by Samuel Gragg in the early 19thC. The Kid's Cart is a design I've done for our children, grandchildren, and occasional charity auctions.

My father, grandfather, and earlier ancestors made many things - practical sometimes whimsical - which had to be both sturdy and pleasing to their purpose. My dad and I built boats, whittled animals, and repaired things at home. As a camp counselor, I taught "woodshop." In college and young married years, making things saved money, relieved stress, and sometimes expressed romance. I've tried to pass woodworking on to next generations. Making and joy are important for good furniture and toys, for our kids and our grandchildren. All this has been recreation, in every sense.


Display Table

Hippogryph Table

Hippogryph Table with Hippogryph's Fawn

Hippogryph Table with Hippogryph's Fawn

Kid's Cart

Chair #5 (Klismos)

Rehoboth Elastic Chair #10

Stair Table

Artist Video