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Rump Table Series - Split Rump Table

Here's My Woodcarving!

by Mark Levin
Albuquerque, NM

Click on any picture to see a larger version.


I studied under Bobby Falwell, a graduate student of Wendell Castle's. From Bobby I learned the gospel according to Wendell. The salient commandment was, "It ain't about the wood, it's the power of form." From that point of departure, I visualize my work in a coat of black paint, for if it has the visual gravitas in black, the wood becomes the frosting giving the work its heart and soul.

Solid and Sage Advice

For years my style was all over the place. I had the fortuitous opportunity to sit next to Michael Monroe (former curator of the Smithsonian Institute and Bellevue Art Museum) at a Furniture Society luncheon. He stated, it's important for an artist to concentrate on a single series and grow/brand that series into their own. I had already made several Leaf Tables (started in the late-1970's), by that time, as well as a couple of works that would become the Fruit Series. I focused on these two.

Leaf Series

Taking Michael Monroe's discussion to heart, I developed the Leaf Series. I made twenty tables over two decades, and then the twenty-first one around 1999, the Marilyn Monroe Leaf Hall Table. It was a grand slam. I knew it was special as I was building it, for that piece put me on the map. It opened the door to the Smithsonian Craft shows, won two NICHES awards, as well as becoming part of the Mint Museum permanent collection. The downside of having such a visible work is that it spawns a wave of imitators, or second-handers as Ayn Rand describes them.

Paganini Leaf Shelf

Marilyn Monroe Leaf Hall Table

Marilyn Monroe Leaf Shelf

Handel Leaf Desk

Georgi Mav Leaf Side Table

Lily Pad Side Table

Fruit Series

The Fruit Series came about from a collector simply cutting a pear in half and stating, "build the damn thing." I did. It's my most successful work and I have made over fifty of them. I still get a kick out of making the Pear and other fruit pieces. Where the Leaf Tables are very demanding, the Fruit Series are my wham-bam pieces.

Apple Table with Drawer

Hilton Head White Pear Coffee Table

Peach of a Plum Coffee Table

Pear Coffee Table with Drawer

Pair of Apple Side Tables

Profile Series

Ballerina Hall Table

Duet Bench

Nymph Stool

Solo Ballerina Bench

The Process

There is nothing magical about how I build the work. I laminate wood together to form large "blanks" from which I sculpt. I start with chainsaws, disc grinders and then move to small die grinders. The only hand tools I use are an array of Auriou files , an occasional Japanese carving gouge and hand scrapers to do the detail work. I've gone from doing hand cut dovetail cabinetry in the beginning of my career to now, where if I cannot do it with power tools and machinery, I'm likely not to attempt the project.

Bumps in the Road

The years from 2007 through 2010 unfolded like a bad "B" movie; studio totaled by fire, cancer, divorce, and my Rottweiler of 12 years died. It took a few years to peel myself off the floor, rebuild my body, and pay off the medical bills. In 2014 I mustered the courage to rent a small shop in Albuquerque and start again.

New Work

The most unsettling residue from the fire was losing thirty years of models and sketchbooks. However, it freed/forced me to start with a clean slate. I've started various new series as represented by the Ripple Table in addition to adding new works to the Leaf and Fruit Series.

Ripple Side Table

The Future

The most exciting phenomenon I see in American Studio Furniture is CNC and rapid prototyping. This is going to open so many new doors and discoveries for artists and in some cases close a few. Regardless, for that reason alone, I wish I were twenty to ride that wave to shore.

Nouveau Plant Stand

Last Dance

The cancer has a 90 percent recurrence rate. It's like knowing you're going to be hit by a truck, you just don't know when. Michael Hurwitz, in a recent American Craft Magazine article, stated he builds "every piece as if it might be his last." His sentiment now drives every piece I do. If the other shoe does drop, I want it to be in the shop. It would be riotous, sawdust to dust. I can live with that.

Please visit to see more of my work.

You can email Mark at . You can visit Mark's website at .

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