Wood artist and carpenter Elynyd Benjamin from Nelson, BC, ruminates on glue-ups, mistakes and being a morning person.
Q & A with Elynyd Benjamin
Made for her mother, who needed a little drawer just big enough for a couple remote controls and something a bit taller than your average coffee table. Benjamin loves curvy lines and wanted the table to feel a bit like it was sprouting up from the ground.
Elements Art Piece
This was a commission for a client in Revelstoke who wanted the four elements to be included in the pattern. I steam bent some thin strips to get the defined lines of the leaves for “Earth” and the wind for “Air”. Benjamin incorporated a shou sugi finish on some of the pieces to add more texture to the piece.
Quotes from Elynyd Benjamin
My space is bare bones, but it’s a whole lot better than nothing! I share the garage with my partner and all of our bikes and gear, but I’m grateful to have a space at all. I’m pretty limited in what I can do at the moment as there’s not much space for equipment.
I’m a morning person. I love the calm quiet and soft light. I’m most productive and make the least mistakes in the morning.
I listen to CBC radio in the morning, and a podcast, Spotify or CKUA in the afternoon.
I really love working with hand tools. There’s just a level of satisfaction that can’t be rivalled when you make perfect cuts without the use of power tools. I wish carving chisels spent more time in my hands.
I believe there are ideas floating around looking for the appropriate vessel to bring them to life. I guess I’m just a creative port importing ideas and exporting creations.
Pen and paper and Turbo CAD to design my work.
Put all your ideas on paper. The more you get down on paper and out of your brain, you open up more space in your brain to bring in new ideas.
I’d be happy if I didn’t see another epoxy river table.
I like commissions because you already have a buyer, but I love to create without parameters or expectations.
Word of mouth has been very kind to me, and Instagram is becoming a very useful tool.
For the past 13 years I’ve been doing carpentry work. It’s in the last two that I decided to start working for myself and am slowly transitioning to doing more shop-based creative projects.
I really wanted to build a canoe and signed up for a course to learn how. The course got cancelled but in the process I decided to take an entry carpentry course and never really looked back.
Being creative and artistic is pretty important to me. I love to combine art with functionality.
Seeing your completed project is definitely the most exciting, but I actually really love just simply breaking out stock, truing up edges and thicknessing material. It’s those very first steps where you’re still wondering how the project is going to go, and taking rough material and cleaning it up to see the figure in the wood. Choosing which side of the piece has the figure you want to work with. It’s like spring when the leaves are almost popping but the craziness of summer hasn’t hit yet.
I’m currently part-time woodworking and part-time carpenter. I like the balance of doing both. Keeps my skills well rounded.
Don’t let mistakes get you down. A good woodworker is just someone who is good at fixing their mistakes. We all make them and the more we try, the better we get.
Glue-ups are the most frustrating part of building.
I think in general there is a growing desire for quality handmade items. The Internet is making it easier to get your name and product out to a much larger crowd.
Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.