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We are interviewing producers from all 50 states. Today we present Jess Crow, an Alaskan epoxy / wood artist.
How did you start the woodworking? Who were your mentors?
I entered the field of carpentry by accident. I wanted a coffee table for my bedroom and I couldn’t afford one. I found some free money and I had enough knowledge to get started! From there, I created my style thanks to my artistic experience. In the end I didn’t like the table in my room, but when I posted it on Craigslist, 100 other people did it! I found that my work of art added much more to a “pallet” style coffee table to distinguish it!
I didn’t really have mentors as much as I had books! I read everything I could get my hands on building, just like I do with works of art, and this has helped me enough to get started.
What do you think is your best or favorite job? What kind of work do you do most?
One of the most touching pieces I made was the 25 ‘conference table for a local indigenous society. They not only wanted the wood to be part of Alaska (Alaskan Birch), but they wanted the shareholders to remember where they came from. The project ended up being a geographically correct 25 ‘version of the Kuskokwim River. I also flew to the region to lay eyes on the river and match the color to my epoxy work. In addition to collecting the rocks to add. The final touch was the creation of nut ulus which represented the exact locations of the riverside villages. I love to bring depth and color to any build I do, and I find maximum satisfaction when I can stand back and “feel” nature in one piece.
The artwork I do on my builds captures the nature and overall organic flow. While the structure of my builds may be traditional, the elements and the art I add to them. I am best known for my epoxy work which I should say as a short answer!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start carpentry or pursue it as a profession?
While it is essential to be aware of what others are doing and what’s trending, don’t be afraid to start your own trend and style. To be successful in this realm, you need to stand out from everyone else and it tends to take time to find what sets you apart. I am also well known for saying “embrace your strange” and “build more of the furniture …” and with these statements, I mean the things that make “you” can be your greatest asset and not a deficit! And when we “build more than furniture …” we are building a community of people who support and encourage each other – let’s build a tribe!
What’s your best woodworking tip or technique?
Find out how to sand and finish correctly. You can ruin a project you’ve been working on for months if you don’t master the fundamental art of finishing. I have seen exquisite creations turn into frustrations and less of works of art with signs of turbulence and poor finishes.
Is there anyone you would like to scream or recommend to follow? Who inspires you? (It doesn’t even have to be tied to carpentry.)
I’m a sucker for Pablo Cimadevila (@pablocimadevila). He is a jewelry manufacturer and his attention to detail amazes me. Not only are his creations, but his videos are relaxing and you can easily get lost while watching him work.
See more of Jess’s works on her website, Instagram @crowcreekdesigns or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn
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