I don’t know which sensory pleasure was most powerful in those first few seconds in Brenda Stein’s workshop, the smell of curly wood chips exploding off the lathe or the feel of a delicate, silky-smooth bowl, recently finished. A woodworker’s shop, other than the light finishes applied at the end to protect and bring out the grain, is a natural place. Not in the woods, but of the woods, artist applying scraper and gouge to a hunk of tree to bring out a beauty hidden while still alive. Much of Brenda’s wood comes from individuals who lost a favorite tree that played a poignant role in their lives. They give her the log and she gives them back a memorial, a remembrance to be treasured. Institutions get involved also, as the Vanderbilt campus and the Governor’s mansion have handed over their felled oaks and maples in exchange for award winning sculptures. Brenda creates best when she’s “in the zone”. To escort her there, she dots her space with notes, quotes, affirmations, images, pictures of people dear to her. And not just on the walls, but also on the ceiling or in a crevice, hiding there until her gaze again falls across these familiar friends. Sometimes, she works through the night, unaware of the time. She pulls the full length canvas curtains together to hold back the
flying sawdust, turns on her music and the lathe, makes that first curve-creating cut on a new blank, and the fun begins.
From the artist: “ I feel like I'm entering a creative sanctuary. It has the element of earth with the exposed block, fire with burning incense, soft lighting that's easy on the senses when I need it, a wide range of music that can really drive a project or calm the nerves. The curtains give it a cozy atmosphere. I can open them up to the outside air, or sequester myself away into my private hovel.”