Woodworker Charles Faucher was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Design at the 2014 PMA Craft Show.
How did you first get interested in working in your medium? What is special about the medium you work in? How does it inform the work you create?
I grew up in the Michigan woods. Trees have been a source of material, inspiration and wonder. I climbed them and sawed them down for building projects and firewood. They’re wonderfully variable in their bark, leaf patterns and timber properties and sometimes large enough to inspire genuine awe. Culturally, we invest them with magical and religious qualities.
What was the inspiration for a recent piece?
We have had a very snowy winter here in north central Massachusetts and lots of opportunity for "snow fleas"—not fleas at all, but a species of insect with anti-freeze in its bodily fluids—to flourish on the surface of the snow. The strong contrast between the tiny creatures and the white surface reminds me of my ongoing interest in using American holly and ebony veneer to create novel effects in my work. I designed a new series based on this combination, prompted in part at least by the startling appearance of the snow fleas.
What do you love about your workspace or studio?
I have had the great good fortune of building a new studio for myself on my property in Pepperell, MA. Since finishing the program at PCA (Philadelphia College of Art, now University of the Arts) in 1976, I have occupied many spaces, many of them less than ideal: a basement in Germantown, a plywood lean-to in northern New Mexico, and old lamp factory in Maynard, MA, a drafty—and mold-ridden—barn in New Ipswich, NH. I thought I owed myself one purpose-built space: big enough, dry enough, timber framed with 10-foot ceilings and a great view of forest and rolling hills through a south facing window. And that is the space in which I now work.
Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show?
A mom and her daughter stopped by my booth during the PMA show. The daughter was especially interested in my work and her mother indulged her (and me) by buying a piece. As the conversation developed, we discovered we had more in common. The daughter was a senior in the wood program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I was there in the mid-1970s when the then-much-smaller school was called Philadelphia College of the Arts. We had a wonderful time comparing program and facilities, then and now. I was able to assure her that a life and a livelihood in wood was possible, if not easy. All it required was a modicum of talent, and lots of optimism and persistence.