Ikebana and the Art of Furniture Making
by Suzanne Kamata
page 3 of 4

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.

One of the chairIt 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 in Japan.

"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 tree trunk 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).


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