Art is a way of life. I live in a handmade house surrounded by handmade furniture, ceramics, graphics, paintings, leaded glass, metal sculpture and fiber arts.
Lee Swennes was an excellent artist and craftsman and he was dedicated to teaching and sharing his craft. The artist lived with this work and detailed its production for an advanced furniture design course. A page from the manual included images of a steam tube and this chair explaining how it was bent and pieced together.
Top: This is not a cannon by a steam tube. It is made up "of four" drain pipes with peanut butter jar lids closing each end. A hot plate was used for heat under a coffee can filled with water. Strips of wood 3/16" thick, by 2" wide, and varing lengths were put into the tube (after each had been individually out and sanded smooth) and steamed until flexible enough to be bent.
Bottom: Pieces were then trained on top of jigs (which I made out of plywood) until dry. Strips were then removed from the jigs, glued and replaced on the jig and held in place with special clamps and C-clamps until dry. Approximately 20 strips were used to make up each bent wood piece.
Leland Swennes 1936–2016
Leland Swennes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1936. When he was three, his family moved to San Diego, California, the city he would call home for the rest of his life. He grew up with music, the arts and tennis as staples of his environment. Swennes would narrow the focus of his study to art when in college though he put himself through school teaching art and giving private tennis lessons. After he completed his studies, Swennes continued to teach art to high school students for twenty-six years.
Creativity was an important aspect of Swennes’ life and career; he explained: “Art is a way of life. I live in a handmade house surrounded by handmade furniture, ceramics, graphics, paintings, leaded glass, metal sculpture and fiber arts.” Swennes worked with wood, metal, and ceramics to make one-of-a-kind furniture forms, objects and works of art.
Swennes died in 2012 leaving behind a rich legacy of expertly crafted handmade functional and non-functional pieces in a variety of media and materials.