We’re interviewing makers from all 50 states. Today we’re featuring Jess Crow, an epoxy/wood artist from Alaska.
How did you get started woodworking? Who were your mentors?
I entered the woodworking field by accident. I wanted a coffee table for my bedroom, and I couldn’t afford one. I found some free dunnage and had just enough knowledge to get started! From there, I created my own style due to having an art background. Turned out, I didn’t like the table in my room, but when I posted it on Craigslist, 100 other people did! Turns out my artwork added just that much more to a “pallet” style coffee table to set it apart!
I didn’t really have mentors as much as I had books! I read anything I could get my hands on about building, just like I do with artwork, and that helped me just enough to get started.
What do you think is your best or favorite work? What kind of work do you do the most?
One of the most touching pieces I have done was the 25′ conference table for a local Native corporation. They wanted not only the wood to be a part of Alaska (Alaskan Birch), but they wanted the shareholders to remember where they came from. The design ended up being a 25′ geographically correct version of the Kuskokwim River. I even flew up to the region to lay eyes on the river and color match my epoxy work. As well as collect rocks to add. The final touch was creating walnut Ulus that represented the exact locations of the villages along the river. I love bringing depth and color into any build I do, and I find the most satisfaction when I can stand back and ‘feel’ nature in a piece.
The artwork that I do on my builds captures nature and overall organic flow. While the structure of my builds may be traditional, the elements and art I add to them. I am most known for my epoxy work I would have to say as a short answer!
What advice would you give to someone that wants to start woodworking or pursue it as a profession?
While it is essential to be aware of what others are doing, and what is trending, do not be afraid to start your own trend and style. To succeed in this realm, you need to stand out from everyone else, and it tends to take some time to find what makes you stand out. I am well known for also saying “embrace your weird” and “build more than furniture…” and by those statements, I mean the things that make “you” you can be your greatest asset and not a deficit! And when we “build more than furniture…” we are building a community of folks who support and encourage each other–build a tribe!
What’s your best hands-on tip or woodworking technique?
Learn how to sand and do finishes properly. You can ruin a project you have worked on for months if you do not master the fundamental art of finishing. I have seen exquisite creations turn to frustrations and less than works of art with swirl marks and subpar finishes.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout-out or recommend we follow? Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be woodworking related, either.)
I am a sucker for Pablo Cimadevila (@pablocimadevila). He is a jewelry maker, and his attention to detail amazes me. Not only his creations, but his videos are soothing, and you can easily get lost watching him work.
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