Celia Greiner Woodworking

One thing leads to another. Or so the old saying goes. Your grandpa might have told you that when you were small, and maybe then you weren’t entirely sure of it’s meaning. Maybe you still aren’t, we’re not here to judge, but one thing can be agreed upon and that is that grandpas tend to be pretty wise. How many times have we started out with the intent to do one thing, and ended up doing something entirely different? Plenty of times. Just this morning I walked into my kitchen to get a notepad and walked out eating a fudge pop. Go figure. But we absorb our experiences and they become part of who we’ve become. So, no matter how different our doings are in the present, things we did in the past continue to influence our decisions and outcomes. I saw this concept come into play in a most real way the day I got to visit and speak to artist Celia Greiner at her shop, Celia Greiner Woodworking.

“I started out a painter,” Celia tells. “I studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I began to notice that in my work I was seeking ways to make my paintings more dimensional. I was very interested in perspective, but not just rendered perspective. I wanted to build my paintings and create actual 3-D. So I started painting on Masonite; making built paintings.

“But then I began to run out of ideas, and also I had become disillusioned by the art world. So I decided to learn woodworking so that I could make functional objects. After dabbling at it, I realized that in order to make furniture, I’d have to do it full time. So I attended the Worcester Center for Crafts for two years and began making furniture and sculpting with wood.”

Celia’s artistic bent is certainly expressed in her furniture designs: chairs with curvilinear detailing, waved benches, a table reminiscent of clover, roots and all. “Furniture must be touchable. How it feels in your hand is the most important thing. I find purely rectangular pieces kind of boring and easy to reproduce. Rounded edges feel good and draw the hand.”

Celia credits her dad as having helped influence her aesthetic by exposing her to nature at an early age. “I’m definitely inspired by nature. As a kid, my dad would point out plants and creatures. He’d always refer to the beauty and efficient design found in nature. A creature has only the parts it needs. You look at things and you absorb them, and later they come out. I’ve done some rectangular commissions, but when left to my own devices, I naturally go more organic and sculptural.”

Sometimes there is a fine line between being a craftsperson and being an artist. Celia plants herself firmly on the artist side of that continuum. She’s created some pretty far out furniture pieces, such as the Siren Chair, a red-tipped, tentacled, fantasy piece which is in a private home now. “I’ve toned down some of the elaborate shapes in my furniture pieces,” she chuckles. “Now I prefer to reserve those kinds of forms for my sculpture.”

Unlike her furniture, which is all about the tactile, Celia’s sculpture is created mainly for visual impact, with texture as a no less important part of the formula. “I like to juxtapose the smooth with the rough. One emphasizes the other. Normally you don’t touch sculpture, so you’re forced to imagine the feel of it. That gives it some life.”

As much as I loved Celia’s furniture, I found myself, and my camera, drawn to her sculpture. I kept returning to one piece in particular, called Icky. It’s a floor piece, crafted from stained poplar with steel wire, and it’s beautiful . . . and repulsive. “I’m interested in exploring why we are drawn to somethings and flee from others. Why are we attracted to something that has a smooth texture, and repulsed by yuckiness? What if both elements were present in the same piece? You kind of find that in Icky.”

“I’m a sculptor who makes furniture. I’ve been commissioned to design some pieces in more of an Arts and Craft style. Lots of straight lines and rectangular forms. But while in school I found that you can make so many shapes with wood. So I’m always trying to get away from rectangular forms, and move towards the shapely.”

Celia designs first, then picks her woods: poplar for flexibility, ash for graininess, she also experiments with cork and other materials. All of her wood comes from the urban forest, a sustainable resource. Notably, she uses water-based, low VOC, eco-friendly finishes in keeping with her personal philosophy of producing high-quality, hand-crafted pieces as an alternative to the things that can be found in malls and factory outlets.

“I’d like to see shopping become less of a past-time. Shop when you need it. Buy good-quality, well made things that will last a long time. I’m all for the handmade movement. I appreciate people who put a lot of thought into what they do. Buying handmade helps you to get to know the maker and respect them through their work.”

Celia’s personal design philosophy is one that all of us could take and apply to anything going on in our lives. Whether you’re painting, sculpting, crafting, or trying to get your big break on Broadway. “Be honest with yourself. Simplify. Be concise. And don’t be afraid to show some personality.”

Celia Greiner Woodworking, BY APPOINTMENT: 3039 West Carroll, Chicago, Illinois, 60612, USA.
Phone: +1-773-209-3535

On the web: http://www.celiagreiner.com

felt like it

In the few minutes I had to spare at Providence Open Market this past weekend I came across a tent I haven’t seen there before.

What caught my attention was the stuffed green bean {quite similar to Bartie the Pear pictured here} I was originally introduced to through twitter. My favorite handmade store in providence was showing off some new goodies one fine day, the cute as pie green bean with a face being one of those adorable pieces. Since then, I have been on the lookout, hoping to see these adorable stuffed animals in person.

I was all alone in my booth this past Saturday so I wasn’t able to handle all of lovely offerings on Felt Like It’s table. But I took a business card and vowed not to just place it in the recycling bin as I do with so many others. This time I would scour the internet for this person’s work. I am so glad I did. Vegetables with a face are too cute to pass up. These need to find a place on my studio refrigerator soon. I need a gentle reminder to eat some veggies instead of all those vegan cookies I have been munching on lately.

I have this fascination with owls. They are so cute and stout and generally well depicted by crafters. These are no exception. Felt Like It has a way with picking fabulous color combinations. I just love how she gives her pieces such cute little faces.

Felt Like It’s subject matter seems endless. She interprets everyday items in a fun, light-hearted way. We are able to interact with her pieces differently than we would with the real item. Unless you are into hugging your hamburger that is. {That’s right, she makes stuffed hamburgers too!}

Enjoy Felt Like It’s shop. Get some plushies for a little one you love. If you are in the area stop into Craftland and play with these in real life. Go on, you know you want to hug a pear.

For The Love of Swine

Not too long ago we added swine — American Guinea Hogs, an endangered heritage breed to be exact — to our farm family. It didn’t take any time at all for us to fall completely and utterly head over heels for the animals themselves, but I’d be remiss not to mention that we’ve been avid fans of pig-derived products for quite some time before their arrival — and I’m not talking football.

It’s amazing the number of marinades and rubs that pair perfectly with a good pork chop, or the ways in which a slow-cooked pork roast can be used. I’m particularly fond of slathering them in fruit flavors — apple, raspberry, mango — and adding a heavy dose of spice — jerk, chili, cracked pepper. And the meals from which those combinations can be made are endless; pork tacos, pork sausages tossed with pasta and grilled vegetables, white pork chili, bean soup.

Above and beyond all that however, is bacon. In sandwiches, crumbled on greens, chopped and added to a favorite potato or pasta salad recipe, with chocolate — yes, chocolate — bacon is heaven on earth as far as I’m concerned. Of course anything that compliments tomatoes and mayo on two pieces of toasted sourdough is above and beyond good with me so this is of no surprise. And it’s with that love in mind that I can spend copious amounts of time browsing the internet for bacon in all its glorious forms.

One of the most tantalizing of those products I’ve found to date has to be Skillet Street Food’s Bacon Jam on Foodzie (Pictured at top). Here’s what Real Simple magazine had to say about it:

This savory blend of bacon, onions, spices, and balsamic vinegar is perfect for your pork-loving oinkle. Spread on grilled cheese, burgers, and toast.

Vibrant Flavor‘s Maple Bacon Pretzels and The Red Head’s Bacon Peanut Brittle (pictured second and third in this post, respectively) come in a close second and both are also Foodzie products.

Do you have a favorite bacon product, flavor combination or recipe? Share it in the comments!