I learned leather carving and tool making in the Boy Scout merit badge program taught by my father in the 1950s. In my teens, I taught leatherwork to Scouts. I continued to make functional items over the years, but my artistic use of leather exploded when Tandy Leather opened a teaching and sales facility in Raleigh. My favorite items to make and carve are elaborate western holsters and gunbelts and chessboards.

I have been making furniture and cabinets since I was around ten years old. I grew up with a shop in the basement and a father who made high-end wood office chairs and desks. We made all the cabinets and woodwork for our house and I did the same for my house. I made my own leather carving and woodturning tools on a forge and started carving leather and turning wood in the 1950s. My woodturning passions today are turning chess men, pepper grinders, salt shakers, and various kinds of vessels. My flower vases and bases have been associated with award-winning flower arrangements.

I am in the process of completely renovating my art studio and wood shop, making new cabinets, paint and painting storage, and fixtures to make life easier (not to mention working on refinements to an old easel design). My next major woodturning project will be turning new polymer-impregnated replacement wood handles for our most beloved set of everyday cutlery. Time does take its toll. It took me years to find replacement material in the right shade, but now life is good!

I’ve been working on a new book for beginner and intermediate woodturners on designing and turning chess pieces. That project is on hold until completion of all the shop renovation, but sometime in 2013, I expect to run a woodturning workshop devoted to designing and turning chess pieces and use the results as part of the book.

1 Comment

  1. karen koehler
    October 16, 2013

    I have a piece signed by Allen Clapp. Don’t know if that is you or not. It seems to be a handcarved wooden hexagon box with a poinsettia that covers the top and comes down over the lid and down into the botttom half. It is lined in red velvet. Since is it signed, I am curious about it. It is in excellent shape. It is very well made and obviously not an import from overseas.

    Thank you for any info. Karen

    Reply

Leave a Reply