Fred Eiden

Fred adjusts the works in a craftsman tall clock

In 2001 my wife and I left our jobs at a technology company and moved from Seattle to a small community in western Montana. We found a charming log home to live in and a few acres to play on. The home was constructed of salvaged logs from a pair of old barns. Though the home was relatively new, it felt old and the logs still showed all the marks of the original craftsmen who shaped them by hand, from the dovetailed corner joints to the tool marks on their hand-hewn faces. For me, the house was inspiring and it led me to think about what I might be able to do with my own hands. I began by building a garage. Through that I found that I preferred more detailed and intricate work. My car never spent much time in my half of the garage, as I soon filled it with woodworking tools and started to learn about building furniture.

In 2004 I attended a 3-month intensive course in furniture design and construction at The Rosewood Studio in Ontario Canada. At that time, the school was owned by Ted Brown and he employed Robert Van Norman as the principle instructor. (Robert now runs the Inside Passage School of Fine Woodworking near Vancouver, B.C.) Both instructors trained with James Krenov at The College of the Redwoods,and the program emphasized his thinking. This school appealed to me because of the combined focus on hand tools and machinery. Various exercises and projects were designed to teach classic woodworking techniques, while the requirement that we design and build a piece compelled us to reach a higher level of skill.

A couple of years later we started a family and moved to Bainbridge Island. Since then I've been designing and building custom furniture in my workshop. I also hone my skills by working on my home, a 100-year-old farmhouse that we are slowly renovating. Joining Northwest Woodworkers' Gallery in 2011 fulfilled an important goal for me as an artist. Another goal, which I feel may be some time away, is to find my own voice in furniture making and learn to express myself. Many of my pieces have followed a particular style, i.e. Arts and Crafts, Early American, “Krenovian”, as a means of learning a new technique. While I admire these styles, I don’t feel that they are necessarily my own. Understanding that question is a focus of all of my work.

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