Kieran Kinsella spends the majority of his time in his shop, carving, sculpting, and crafting wooden logs into unique and somewhat primitive looking pieces of furniture.
His designs vary in style, drawing inspiration from Shaker-style furniture and Mid-century modern designs to clear across the continent, creating African-looking vessels — the ones that might be reserved for the chief of a village to sit on.
Growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley, Kinsella says that he spent a lot of time in nature and perhaps that has always been his inspiration. “In the Northeast, where I live there are a lot of forests and trees – it’s pretty abundant.”
Kinsella spoke candidly about the selection of wood that he chooses to use for his sculptured furniture. There is no middleman in the purchasing process and hand-selects each piece that he uses. He went on to explain that he wants to be transparent in how he sources his materials. “I want to be clear in how I source my materials. At least 30 to 40% of the wood I source is salvaged from fallen trees. I use local materials and work with local foresters, loggers, and tree service people,” he says. Yet, he does repurpose salvaged wood and considers it his homage to nature. “That’s my favorite to use, because it’s rescue wood. The most pleasing discovery for me is finding wood that was just in a firewood pile or what the tree service was going to put in their log dump.”
As a sculptor, artist, and furniture maker, Kinsella’s wood pieces are created from select Northeast hardwoods, hand-carved and kiln-dried. He also creates handmade ceramics vessels, using slip cast porcelain and hand-built stoneware and working with other local artisans to complete those pieces.
His works of art are architectural, some with arched legs, while others are more rough, wild, and abstract. He allows the chunk of wood to determine his design. There is something special about putting legs on a log that has become his signature statement.
“There is a range of inspirations that I draw from… Each piece is one-of-a-kind and hand-shaped. There will always be some variances. The wood will crack differently in the kiln when it dries and take on a different shape, so there are some variances in each piece created.”
Each piece of wood tells a story, revealing a dateline and certain characteristics — it’s the spoken language of trees. “I can look at the top of a cut log or tree trunk and look at the rings to determine how the tree grew – It tells a story about the material, in a way, and how it is connected to the environment. Each individual tree has its own different traits and character and diverse woods react differently,” he says. “I’ve been doing this long enough where I can see flaws in the wood, and I am able to utilize those parts while accentuating others. I think that these pieces have a real connection with nature and the local environment.”
Each crafted piece of art takes anywhere from 25 to 30 hours to complete. Some have taken much longer — over 100 hours. He has to be in the moment, without distractions, paying attention to the process as he works. Yet Kinsella says he enjoys the solitude of creating his object d’art.
“I work by myself and enjoy the rhythm and peacefulness of the day, making and creating these pieces,” he says. “75% of the work is dusty, hard, and not glamorous, but I enjoy that because it is my own doing and I make it work. There’s the smaller percent, the creative part and that’s what keeps me going. No matter how busy I am, I can always make time for creating or seeing potential in a lot of new shapes in different pieces of wood. Just the excitement of finding new shapes and learning — you can never learn enough — and that’s the most fun part now. It’s a long, slow journey to get better.”
To learn more about Kieran Kinsella and his sculptural vessels, visit: www.kierankinsella.com.