Later, a friend recommended another book that
proved to be influential - "Making Rustic Furniture" by Daniel
Mack. So impressed was she by Mack's work, that she drove her truck cross-country
one summer to take part in one of his occasional workshops.
Her first successful piece of furniture was a footstool with eight hand-carved
tenons, which she learned to make following instructions from Mack's book.
Since then she has made chairs, benches, and hat racks, among other things.
To see more of Kingsbury's recent creations, we move to a tatami room
in her rented farmhouse for a cup of tea. An arrangement of twigs cradling
sheet music brings to mind a sacred text found in the forest. A piece of
wood to which she has added a leg reminds me of Dr. Suess's whimsical storybook
characters. There is a sculpture - arranged rather than carved - which
looks like a rabbit sitting cross-legged in the curve of a crescent moon.
From another angle, that rabbit might be a pair of entwined lovers.
This intentional ambiguity in Kingsbury's work
is a gift to the viewer; so are the unexpected angles and juxtapositions
found in her more functional designs. As Okakura Kakuzo writes in the classic
"Book of Tea," first published in the early 1900s, "In
the art of the Orient uniformity of design is fatal to the freshness of
the imagination." Kingsbury provides ample room for the mind to romp.
is possible that influences from Kingsbury's latest discipline, the study
of the design and maintenance of Japanese gardens, will also nter her work.
She began apprenticing with a master gardener on this, her second sojourn
"I'm interested in tree shapes," she says. "It's
always been a little mysterious to me about how Japanese trees get their
shape." Tree trimming was one of her first lessons.
So far this new field has taught Kingsbury
about the power of the components in a composition. When designing a garden,
she'd been hoping to use two large and dramatic rocks, but another gardener
advised her that the rocks would fight. Kingsbury tells me that this makes
sense in considering pieces of wood for her chairs as well.
Last spring, her garden on the theme of "Outcropping" was displayed
at the 20th Annual Flower and Garden Exhibit held in Tokushima.
As a beginner, she tried to stay close to the standard design in her
composition. She arranged three rocks, with one main vertical rock, one
horizontal, and one accompanying diagonal (representing heaven, earth,
and humanity, respectively, as they do in ikebana).