At one end of the spectrum there is relatively cheap, mass-produced furniture – chairs with legs turned
on lathes, grouped, piled and assembled with robotic regularity. On the other side there are custom pieces of carved wood and other unique hand-made furniture objects born of combined art and craft. In the gray area between is this whittle chair idea, a free-form artistic remodeling of a conventional solid wood dining or office chair.
The story is simple enough: Karen Ryan sat down one day while watching a movie and intuitively started whittling away at an old natural wood chair frame with the seat set aside. There were no plans made nor specific intentions in mind, simply the idea of subtracting material from an unwanted chair – but in the process upcycling a generic form into something unique and personal.
She meticulously documented this delightful process, showing the chair at each stage of its deconstruction with growing piles of sawdust on the floor and an increasingly warped and curved form emerging as she carved. A pen knife and a few hours later and an artful organic form was visible where a well-worn used chair had once sat.