After battling US snow storms that delayed his arrival, Scott Grove, the award-winning New York artist, sculptor and woodworker, has just finished teaching the art of veneering at the Chippendale International School of Furniture located near Edinburgh, Scotland. Grove first visited the school in 2013, when he taught an intensive, one-week-long course to enthusiastic students.
Like last year, Grove again found the students keen to add more techniques to their fine furniture-making repertoire. He teaches in the United States, both privately and at furniture schools. About Chippendale School he said, “It offers a great curriculum in its 30-week course, and unlike other schools, they teach you the skills you need to be a fine woodworker as well as focusing on creating a career, with business classes included.”
Grove is a third-generation artist, self-taught in the art of veneering and, not content with traditional techniques, he developed his own unique methods. His large variety of work is known for layers of artistic expression; his pieces are often a combination of uniquely carved textures with radiant veneers and finishes. His work creates a desire to touch each piece for a sensuous, pleasurable experience.
Veneer is typically applied to flat surfaces, but Grove’s latest innovation is a technique that allows him to veneer three-dimensionally. For example, he can veneer over the body shape of a female model to create striking wood veneer sculptures.
While at the Chippendale School, Grove teaches the students a course that covers the full range of veneering techniques, giving lectures and demonstrations throughout each day. He said, “It’s a lot to fit into one week – from fundamental hand-cut veneering to very advanced techniques – but the students are incredibly enthusiastic and use this as an opportunity to learn and experiment which I encourage. They have great imaginations and are given the freedom to apply these new skills to their work in any way they want.”
He added, “After lecture, I walk around the workroom while they practise their skills and assist whenever I am needed, allowing them to learn from the mistakes I’ve made myself. Each student’s project is unique – and so are their problems – so we share the experience, what they are working on, any challenges they encounter – and work to resolve them.”
The students’ veneering projects include designing patterns, pictures, and sample boards that can be shown to potential clients. Grove said, “They also make an ‘apprentice box’ in which to store these sample pieces, and some of the students apply veneer to the boxes as well.”
As a result of this intensive week-long course, the students create some very ambitious pieces that will be incorporated into their final projects.
Grove continued, “Anselm Fraser, the School’s Principal, is different because he is so genuinely concerned about the students’ future welfare. He gives them real-world advice and teaches the importance of marketing, commercial insight, and business management. He holds personal one on one business lunches with the students every day and, when I am here, I add my real-world experience to the mix.”
Having this added business piece is what separates the Chippendale School from most others. Grove explained, “At Chippendale, students get all the necessary teaching as well as a whole business approach and education. It moves faster, with three years condensed into nine months. At the Chippendale School, you graduate with an excellent skill set as well as sound business awareness.”
The students at the Chippendale International School of Furniture come from all over the world, including the North and South America and Asia, resulting in a fascinating cultural diversity. The school has a progressive, no-fear approach, resulting in the students getting things done, learning how to compromise and figuring out how to resolve problems.
“It’s a very positive atmosphere to work in and you just can’t help but enjoy it, whether you are one of the teachers or one of the students,” said Grove.
Grove has won the Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge Award four times, an unprecedented achievement, the prized Napkin Sketch Award from the American Institute of Architects, as well as a DuPont Award for Innovative Use of Material, among others.
Grove recently moved to a house with a woodworking shop and artist studio, set in ten acres of land in the hills in the picturesque Finger Lakes region of New York State. He is currently renovating this new home and workshop, both of which will be open for viewing as part of the Finger Lakes Art Community. His work is in the permanent collections of The Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York, The Hunter Museum of American Craft in Chattanooga, Tennessee, prominent corporations such as Bausch & Lomb and Kodak, and is in many private collections.
Scott Grove has also has authored a number of books including his most recent, Advanced Veneering and Alternative Techniques, for Schiffer Publishing. He writes for a variety of national publications and his work has been featured in Fine Woodworking Magazine, Celebrated Living (American Airlines First Class Magazine), Woodshop News, Architectural Record, Interior Design, Design New York, The Robb Report, and the Los Angeles Times, among others.