Here at Bridge & Burn, we're inspired by those in our community who look at things from a different perspective. No one better fits that description than woodworker, Vince Skelly. Vince is inspired by the old and ancient and how he can transport those concepts into the present through carving all of his work from a single block of wood. Read more below on Vince's approach to his craft, what drew him to woodworking, and his love for his home-base of Portland, Ore.
What drew you to the world of woodworking? How did you get your start and what do you love about the medium?
I was drawn to woodworking from an early age. Our house was filled with lots of handmade things like an antique Stickley rocking chair and small carved figurines that looked prehistoric. About 10 years ago I discovered the artist JB Blunk and became obsessed with his large abstract wood sculptures. I started experimenting with wood simply because I was curious about the subtractive sculpting process. I learned to love carving wood with a chainsaw because you can remove lots of material very fast.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Handcrafted modern - carved from a single block of wood. I draw on relationships between ancient building forms and their similarity to contemporary architecture and furniture. I like to think they fit in with The Flintstones because of the show’s midcentury-modern/caveman vibe.
What is the process for creating your work? How does a concept start, where do you draw inspiration, and on average, how long does it take to create a piece of work?
I usually start with a loose sketch or idea in my head. I’ll rough out a form with the chainsaw, refine it with hand tools like a Microplane, then allow it to dry out as much as possible before sanding and oiling it. I’m inspired by primitive objects and megalithic structures. I like how ancient stools and prehistoric tools look perfectly placed in the modern world. It might take 8-10 hours to finish a simple piece, but that could be spread over 2 months.
What do you like about being a maker in Portland?
I like that there are lots of resources available for makers. It feels like everyone is always willing to share knowledge and collaborate. We also have some great craft and tool shops.
What’s something people wouldn’t assume about your craft?
That my sculptures are carved from solid blocks of wood. I don’t use joinery to assemble them together. Often when people see one of my sculptures that has legs, they assume it’s assembled. I’ll flip pieces upside down to show people that they’re actually one block of wood.
Walk us through your perfect Sunday. (Where/what do you eat? Where do you hang out? etc.)