Woodworker Mike Loeffler

Woodworker Mike Loeffler


MIKE LOEFFLER: It’s
almost like being in some sort of crafty
grad school in a way. I was trying to imagine other
ways in which I could commit this amount of time
to have the freedom to try things that
aren’t necessarily profitable, economically. That just need to
incubate and need to be part of life
getting to the next step. To me, that was my
motivation for– for committing for two years. Yeah. My name is Mike Loeffler. I am a woodworker. I do chair making,
I do bowl carving, I do some timber framing. I got interested in
woodworking pretty much because I enjoy trees and
I like being in the woods. And so that was the inspiration. [wood stripping] It’s a good sound, isn’t it? I think one of the nice
parts is you really– your full body is kind of
connected to this process, which is a different
kind of experience than running it through a
band saw or something else like that. [mellow music] SARAH WADDLE: Mike has
an interesting array of crafts that he’s interested
in, both carving small objects and working on big shelters
and buildings, timber framing. And I think he posed an
interesting question to us in applying to the
program, too, of what are the different sort
of legs of a life that make it possible to live
your life as a crafts person and explore what it
might mean to have sort of a seasonal
lifestyle of building buildings in the warmer
months and doing smaller carvings in the colder months? And what do I want to take from
bits and pieces of the people that I’m mentored by and
create my own path forward? MIKE LOEFFLER: I actually was an
intern at North house in 2011, and sort of got addicted
to all this stuff. I started carving– so
my last name is Loeffler, and it means
spoonmaker in German. When I found that out, I
thought I should figure out how to carve spoons. It’s one project kind of leads
to the next, to the next, to the next. And that kind of
happened with me. It started with something small
and repeatable, like a spoon. And then really these
bird bowls are just big spoons with a little
more detail on them. Just taking it and find
a new unique directions, like making a flamingo bowl. [laughs] You know,
who would of thunk? MIKE LOEFFLER: You start
introducing new tools to your kit, and then all of
a sudden, you’re like, hmm, I could also try this project. And so they just kind of grew in
scale and I love that about it. Yeah. And with most of these, I don’t
bother to make them perfect because I don’t– I don’t want them to be perfect. SARAH WADDLE: Mike provides
a great example of somebody who’s making things that are
really looking back and looking forward. Looking to the past
for inspiration and standing on hundreds
of years of people exploring form and function,
and how a chair or a bowl works in your hands
and in your house. But also looking forward and
seeing, what do people today want to use in
their daily lives? What’s really nice
about doing this two– having a base layer that’s
another color and a sort of a contrasting
color to the top coat is that when you buff it out– this was only made
with hand tools. So you could see all the facets. It’s really a very,
very textured surface. It’s a really neat effect. Mike’s been like–
yeah– super inspirational. He had so many cool ideas when
it comes to the use of color and using like
patterns and motifs, and ideas that I would
never think of using. MIKE LOEFFLER: You know,
there are some things that are super ornate that are
interesting because of how busy they are. But some things, it’s just– there’s a sweet spot where they
can be– they can definitely go overboard. And sometimes just a little
touch is really all it needs. I don’t know if I
have a style yet. I’ve been borrowing a
lot from other people. And kind of figuring
out how the mechanics– sort of the chair architecture
works, and then what– what a good seat feels like. And so I’m new to it. I think it’ll develop– it’ll show up. My specialty will
show up in the future. Yeah. [upbeat guitar music]

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