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Wendel Castle Dies1/23
Wendel Castle, the artist that worked with lots and lots of stack laminated furniture back in the 70's, passed away over the weekend. He was a sort of mainstay with the East Coast Art Furniture folks and even the Fine Woodworking Magazine folks.
I met him in the mid 90's at a lecture he gave. This was in the midst of doing a series of 13 clocks, as well as 'transformer' furniture.
He is well known for the 10 Rules of Thumb that actually apply to any creative work:
1. If you are in love with an idea you are no judge of its beauty or value.
2. It is difficult to see the whole picture when you are inside the frame.
3. After learning the tricks of the trade, don't think you know the trade.
4. We hear and apprehend what we already know.
5. The dog that stays on the porch will find no bones.
6. Never state a problem to yourself in the same terms it was brought to you.
7. If it's offbeat or surprising it's probably useful.
8. If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it.
9. Don't get too serious.
10. If you hit the bullseye every time the target is too near.
I had no regard for his very early stack lamination work, it was just so bulky. But when I read rule number 1, it was an epiphany for me. Helped me understand that my emotional involvement and joy I had in my work, would likely mean nothing to a customer nor to the price I could charge. He will be missed!
I was very sad to read this. I had the privilege to study under him for two years at the Wendell Castle school in Scottsville NY. This experience raised my craft to a new level that has provided for my family and employees for the past 30 years. I saw Wendell and Nancy Jures about 8 Years ago in Scottsville when I was taking my son to schools. While studying under Wendell I was asked to do some of the finishing on his series of clocks. At the time my finishing was my claim to fame. All of the facility at the school was top notch and they all truly contributed to my success. He will be missed!
I was fond of his rules, especially the first two and the last two.
My wife and I had occasion to see his work in the early 80's at the Milliken Gallery in NYC, and we got to see the clocks up close early one morning at the Renwick Gallery in DC.
I never met the man, but I was always taken by his high level of creativity and craftsmanship.
I came to think of him as the David Bowie of studio furniture, whereby you may not always like what he did, but what he did was innovative, done with skill and ingenuity, and he was always reinventing himself such that his work was both cutting edge and state of the art.
Never met the man, sorry to say, but he opened up a new world to many of us studio furniture makers.
It's hard to find better than his rules.