Of pepperwood and bird’s eye maple

It’s always a pleasure to see students developing their design talents in different ways, making beautiful and unique pieces of furniture that reflect aspects of their own imagination.

One aspect of John Grillo’s creativity has been to embrace the use of timber types that aren’t commonly used, to make a collection of fine furniture that features veneers of bird’s eye maple and pepperwood.

John, a former business intelligence analyst from Denver, Colorado, has constructed a round table from walnut and American pepperwood.

This timber species, relatively rare in furniture design, is sometimes called the toothache tree because chewing its leaves or bark causes a tingling numbness in the mouth – and was used by Native Americans and early settlers to treat toothache.

The result is a table whose surface is both structural complex and utterly tactile; a clever fusion of artistic and woodworking talent.

He’s now returned to another unusual timber type, bird’s eye maple, to complete a small Regency-inspired work table.  The table is made from yew with ebony inlays, with a beautifully lacquered maple veneer on its top surface.

John previously paired bird’s eye maple and fumed oak to create a console table, whose top seems to float from its legs – another piece that embraces clean, simple lines to perfectly combine form and function.

Bird’s eye maple is formed when a maple tree is grown in poor conditions and attempts to start numerous new buds to get more sunlight – but which are then aborted, leaving tiny knots that resemble the eyes of small birds.

After graduation, John will be returning to Denver to set up Rocky Mountain Fine Woodworking.


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