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“Wendell Castle Remastered” on display in New York museum

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Wendell Castle furniture piece (Source: Friedman Benda).

Wendell Castle’s 60-plus years of work is on display at the Museum of Arts and Design.

In advance of Wendell Castle’s coming solo exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, two of the artist’s abstract, bulbous bronze sculptures the color of ashen clay sat on the sidewalk outside the museum. As three female tourists rested on the one titled “Wandering Mountain,” a homeless man reclined on the piece called “Temptation,” as if on a couch.

When asked if they knew they were sitting on art, one woman replied: “It’s cute and comfortable, too. It’s functional art.”

“Comfortable” and “functional” aren’t words often used to describe Castle’s work. As “Wendell Castle Remastered,” opening Tuesday, makes evident, this is an American furniture artist who, for more than 60 years, has crafted fantastical, seemingly impossible-to-manufacture objects: cantilevered wooden chairs resembling chunky squids, cabinets channeling pomegranates and fiberglass chairs reminiscent of pulled molars.

While Castle has been involved in more than 20 exhibitions at the museum during his career, “Wendell Castle Remastered” marks his first solo exhibition there. In addition to surveying his influential six-decade career as a pioneer of the art-furniture movement, it also explores how, in recent work, Castle’s old-school handiwork now intersects with modern robotic techniques.

“What attracts me to this kind of furniture-making is the adventure and risk-taking of it,” Castle, 82 years old, said from his studio in Rochester, N.Y. “I enjoy trying to push those boundaries to an extent where there is no definite thing you know about a piece. With every part you’re learning and doing something you’ve never done before.”

Check out the display here:

The full story:

For more about Castle and his work, check out an earlier FDMC story:


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October 28, 2015 at 7:00 am

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Seasonal woodworking store to open in Northern New York

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A seasonal store showcasing products by local woodworkers will again be open throughout the fall for holiday shoppers, this time at a historic spot in downtown Croghan, New York.

“I think it’s going to be a great spot to showcase the woodworking products,” Edward J. Knapp said of the old E.M. Marilley & Son store, at 9804 Main St. in Croghan.

Knapp, for the second year, plans to open a Northern Tier Woodwrights “pop up” store and this time around will utilize a historic building here, starting next week. The store will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays between Oct. 22 and Dec. 19.

An open house is also planned from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, with refreshments to be served and many woodworkers on hand to discuss their products.

The plan is again to sell a variety of wooden items, from small Christmas ornaments to toys, clocks, art work and larger pieces of furniture, that are produced by artisans from throughout the area, according to a news release on the venture.

“This shop will be a great opportunity to showcase the high quality and unique wood products produced right here in our region,” the release states.

Additionally, patrons will be able to stop by and place orders for custom-made wood products.

See the full Watertown Daily Times story here:

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October 23, 2015 at 7:00 am

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Wooden, electric bicycle draws attention

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“Is it electric? Is it really wood?” and “How fast does it go?” are the top three questions people ask Paul Krause about the cycle he rides through Sandy Springs, Georgia.

The answers: “Yes,” “yes” and “about 35 miles per hour.”

One recent morning, Krause’s custom electric bike drew looks and comments from almost every passerby in the parking lot.

One man walked past a row of cars with his eyes fixed on the wooden machine. He called out to Krause, asking if the bike belongs to him. “It’s pretty unique,” the man calls back after Krause confirmed ownership.

“I believe there are only two in the world,” Krause said, without taking credit as the creator, although his name is etched in white on a red metal plate affixed to the cycle’s wooden frame, below the seat.

About three years ago, Krause left the corporate world, where he designed advertising art products such as cardboard cutouts of Santa drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola.

After an injury to his skull left the Sandy Springs inventor with post-concussion syndrome for months, he said he realized working hard to retire early isn’t as good a plan as doing something full time that doesn’t feel like work.

“We’re only here for so long and that injury helped me realize that,” he said. “So do what you love and try to forget all the pressures society puts on you.”

See pictures and the full Reporter Newspapers story here:

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October 9, 2015 at 7:00 am

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Designer builds wooden London Underground train station replica

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Camilla Barnard has created a wooden replica of London Underground inside a former art school campus. <!–
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London Design Festival 2015 artist Camilla Barnard has created a wooden and hand-painted replica of a London Underground station inside the former campus of art school Central St Martins, design magazine Dezeen reports.

Sculptor and illustrator Camilla Barnard recreates everyday objects and iconic products in wood, ranging from the petite – a Bialetti moka coffee pot and Kellogg’s cereal boxes – to the scale replica of a tube station.

The replica, called Wooden Tube Station, was created for this year’s DesignJunction exhibition in London, which has moved into the former art school campus in Holborn, in the central area of the city.

The set-like installation, made entirely from hand-illustrated sheets of timber, was designed over a period of three months at Barnard’s studio in east London.

The artist collaborated with woodworker Gunter Luck on the project, meticulously measuring the dimensions of barriers, ticket machines and tiles in London Underground stations to create accurate scale models for the installation.

Barnard and Luck wore florescent orange boiler suits for the opening of the installation as a nod to the workwear of Underground engineers.

“I want to try to replicate as many things as I can, so a Tube station is quite a big iconic one to tick off the list,” Barnard told Dezeen at the opening of the installation.

“I started doing it at university and people started to really engage with it and love it so it escalated into a career,” she said. “People keep asking me to make stuff and I enjoy doing it, keeping copying.”

Barnard hand-painted the Tube maps, stacks of Metro newspapers with spoof headlines and signage within the installation.

While the dimensions of each object are intended to accurately reflect the proportions of a real station,”wibbly-wobbly” painted and drawn outlines give the piece a handmade and illustrative appearance.

“I’m not the most accurate person, I don’t think I could make something exactly copied – it looks like a 3D illustration really,” she said. “It’s got all the measurements and details but then I freehand a bit as well.”

Check out the full Dezeen story here:

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October 6, 2015 at 7:00 am

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Prison employees arrested for illegally selling inmate-made wooden items

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Three Corrections Corporation of America employees were indicted by the Davidson County, Tennessee grand jury after investigators said the men sold products made in an inmate woodworking class.

Robert Hill, 58, of Lebanon, Stephen Binkley, 65, of Nashville, and Roy Napper, 68, of Old Hickory, were each indicted on two counts of official misconduct and one count of inmate labor violation by custodian, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).

TBI special agents began investigating a complaint of misuse of inmate labor at the facility at 5115 Harding Place on May 5.Some of the inmates had learned woodworking skills through a Building Trades class and had made products such as wooden plaques and games, according to the TBI.

“During the course of the investigation, agents learned that three individuals who had taught classes at the facility were also part-owners of a wood-working business called Stand Firm Design,” the agency stated in a release Monday. “Agents developed information that from December 2014 through June 2015, some of the products made by the inmates in the Building Trades class were taken from the CCA facility and sold at a flea market as products of Stand Firm Design.’

Investigators believe the men kept profits from the items for themselves and the business.

Binkley, Hill and Napper were all arrested Monday and booked into the Davidson County Jail. The bond was set for $1,000 each.

See the original Tennessean story here:

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September 29, 2015 at 7:00 am

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Wounded veteran given customized smart home

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A customized smarthome, built by The Gary Sinise Foundation, was specially adapted for wounded veteran Mark Lytinski. <!–
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The Gary Sinise Foundation has customized a wounded veteran’s home with smart technology from Core Brands.

On November 19, 2010, U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Mark Litynski’s life was forever changed. After volunteering to be the point man on a foot patrol, he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED), resulting in a bilateral above knee amputation and amputation of his left forearm. In early 2012, actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise learned about Litynski’s tribulation, and decided that Mark and his wife, Heather, would be the recipients of a specially adapted customized smart home, through the Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. Program. With design modifications and expert technologies provided by top manufactures like Core Brands, the home was successfully completed this summer, making the triple-amputee’s daily life much simpler.

“I saw a video that Huffington Post produced, ‘Hidden Wounds,’ that featured Mark and Heather sharing their story,” Sinise explained. “It was my first strong awareness of what they were going through and I knew that I wanted to look into building them a Smart Home.”

Constructed with Litynski’s mobility at the epicenter of the design, the home is equipped with extra-wide hallways, pull-down cabinets, and an ELAN Entertainment and Control System. “The ultimate goal of this project was to provide Mark with a home that he could move freely around and live more independently,” Executive Director of the Gary Sinise Foundation Judith Otter added.

Facilitating the communication between all of the home’s electronics, the ELAN system allows Litynski to operate everything from a mobile app on his smartphone or iPad. If his devices aren’t accessible, Litynski can operate the home through an ELAN gHR200 remotes or one of the four ELAN gTP7 in-wall touch screens installed throughout the home. All of the platforms were created with the end-user in mind, so Litynski can operate each system seamlessly, on devices that he and his family use daily.

The home theater, motorized window shades, security cameras and complete audio system are just a few of the many connected systems in the home. The audio system creates some serious sound, equipped with 7 Niles HDLCR in-wall LCR high-definition loudspeakers, 12 Niles DS8PR 8-inch ceiling-mount performance loudspeakers, a Niles CM8SI ceiling-mount 8-inch two-way speaker, and 3 Sunfire HRS-IW8 in-wall dual 8-inch subwoofers with a Sunfire amp. Additionally, all 6 of the home’s LINEAR IP indoor/outdoor cameras can be monitored through ELAN, which will be extremely beneficial when the Litynski’s are raising their first child, due this November.

The Smart Home was built in Duluth, MN, near Litynski’s hometown, where winters can be extremely brutal. Senior Project Manager Scott Schaeperkoetter explained, “We were nervous about the remoteness of the location and the delays that we could have possibly incurred due to extreme weather conditions. Thankfully, the contractor, Pete Franzen of Legacy Custom Homes, did an amazing job working through the hard winter months and delivered the home ahead of schedule.”

With the likelihood of extreme weather every winter, the home was designed with an effective power management system. To keep the Litynski home’s power up and running all year long, the system integrator installed two Panamax M4315-Pro 8 outlet power conditioners and a BlueBOLT-enabled Panamax MB1500 uninterruptible power supply and power conditioner for the home theater.

Everything in the home was custom-designed for not only Litynski’s mobility, but also his personal interests. “We also designed the home around Mark’s love for the outdoors,” Otter explained. “There are many large windows in the great room and kitchen that allow Mark to sit anywhere in those rooms and look at the woods and wilderness around him.” Outfitting the windows are 21 QMotion Qadvanced Automated Roller Shades featuring ultra-quiet, friction-free operation and no external wires. Two QMotion Qconnect systems allow the shades to be controlled by the ELAN home automation system.

“This home will allow me to be more independent,” Litynski stated. “It probably sounds so simple to someone else, but I can’t describe the feeling of being able to do something yourself that you once couldn’t. The simplest task can be enjoyable and you want to do it again and again, just because you can. I feel I have been blessed a thousand times over and beyond of what is enough.”

Honoring veterans like Litysnki, the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. Program was established to provide wounded heroes and their families with the necessary resources to overcome daily life challenges. The Gary Sinise Foundation is committed to helping our wounded heroes increase their mobility and reclaim their self-reliance.

“A big part of what we do at the Gary Sinise Foundation is raising awareness for the issues that our servicemen and women face and engaging the community to support their hometown hero,” Otter concluded. “We were thrilled that this happened on this project and that many national partners such as Core Brands provided key technology to help us complete this project and provide Mark with as much independence as possible.”

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September 25, 2015 at 7:00 am

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Mysterious Russian idol is the world’s oldest wooden object

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Using modern technology, the Shigit Idol’s origin has recently been dated back to 11,000 years. (Source: Siberian Times)

More than twice the age of the Stonehenge, the Shigit Idol has been recently dated to 11,000 years ago, which makes it the oldest wooden object in existence by far. The idol contains drawings that may be written in a language long forgotten.

“We can say the results are sensational,” said a source at Sverdlovsk Regional History Museum, where the monument is on display. “The first attempt to date the idol was made 107 years after its discovery, in 1997. The first radiocarbon analyses showed that idol was 9,500 calendar years old. To exclude doubts, a decision was made to use the most modern technologies to date the Idol again.”

The statue dates from the very start of the Holocene – the current geological era, and the time when mankind was just emerging as the dominant species. The reason for its creation is unknown.

See the full story here:

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September 23, 2015 at 7:00 am

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