We’re showcasing some of the fantastic pieces of furniture that our students made this year, underlining how a nine-month professional course at the Chippendale school can launch you into a new career.
John Grillo from Denver, Colorado was the winner of the Richard Demarco Prize 2018, for a table that was a “a piece of furniture that displays real skill but which, like a painting or piece of sculpture, transcends craftsmanship and design to become genuine art”, according to the renowned arts commentator.
His contributions to contemporary art have been recognised on numerous occasions, receiving the Polish Gold Order of Merit, the Cavaliere della Republica d’Italia, and the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres de France.
John, a former business intelligence analyst, constructed his round table from walnut and American pepperwood, a design characterised by clean, simple lines, but also incorporating a rarely-used veneer.
That was also true of one of his previous pieces of furniture – a bird’s eye maple and fumed oak console table, whose top seemed to float from its legs.
The apron of his prize-winning table is made from some 40 pieces of intricately-cut walnut, with a dozen pieces of pepperwood veneer to form a simple, flowing yet geometrically-complex design.
Pepperwood, or zanthoxylum clava-herculis to give it its proper name, is sometimes known as southern prickly ash and is native to the south-eastern USA.
It’s also sometimes called the toothache tree because chewing its leaves or bark causes a tingling numbness in the mouth. For that reason, it was used by Native Americans and early settlers to treat toothache.
John is now back in his native Denver and has set up Rocky Mountain Fine Woodworking.