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Winner named at San Diego competition

San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association culled top exhibits from 310 entries that spanned coast to coast

Bill Churchill won the "Best of Show" award for "Crazy Horse - The Vision," an entry in the Wood Carving - Open category at the 28th annual Design in Wood exhibition at the San Diego County Fair.

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The San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association held its 28th annual Design in Wood Competition June 12 through July 5 at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, Calif. Despite the economy, organizers were pleased that there were 310 entries from 165 people. Twelve states were represented this year, including as far away as Massachusetts.

"This year's show went beyond my expectations, I thought we were going to have a lot less activity and, as it turned out, we had new people come in with a lot of great ideas and design," says show coordinator Bob Stevenson. "We had our regulars, 55 members, and 105 non-members. I even had some people who are originally from France and Brazil who did some interesting pieces. Attendance has been beyond expectations; we'll break one million, for sure. We're ahead of last year by at least 100,000."

The Best in Show award was presented to Bill Churchill, for his "Crazy Horse - The Vision," an entry in the Wood Carving - Open category.

"The Best in Show winner has to be selected from all the first-place winners," explains Stevenson. "Bill Churchill has won before with a sculpture of Geronimo. It was an unusual choice, but it has happened once before where we had a carving for Best in Show. We do have 22 different classes of entries so you just can't pick furniture every time. Sometimes it is harder to do a small object than a large object."

Del Cover won the Excellence in Design award for his "Balboa Park Bench," a 48" x 82" x 24" depiction of the famous San Diego Park built with mixed hardwoods and cut glass.

"That's a great piece," Stevenson says. "Del Cover is just phenomenal with his imagination and execution. He has been entering our show for over 25 years and he always comes up with something new. This particular piece was actually designed for a show that was at the Mingei Museum [in San Diego]. There were about six woodworkers and some fiber artists that had pieces on display there ... and since the piece was made for that show, which is in Balboa Park, it was very appropriate.

"The show just continues to amaze me with what people can do with wood. And I think the finishing has come up over the last four or five years from pieces that looked like they were done by amateurs to just about everything that comes in looks like it has been done professionally, even though they are a mix of hobbyists and amateurs."

"Haiku Bench/Table" from David Blackburn took top honors in the Contemporary Woodworking - Furniture category.

David Blackburn's "Haiku Bench/Table" took the top prize in the Contemporary Woodworking - Furniture category.

"His piece is wonderful. He's been doing boxes for a long time ... he's outdone himself this year - that is a phenomenal piece. It has all kinds of trickery; it has four doors inside of it that are all secret doors. It has some pretty marquetry in it. It is an exceptional piece."

Faculty work

About 25 faculty members from the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine, are represented in an exhibition that runs through Sept. 4 at the school's Messler Gallery. "New Work by Faculty" includes pieces from Jennifer Anderson, Ted Blachly, Nick Cook, Jerry Curry, Adrian Ferrazzutti, Peter Galbert, Mark Gardner, Stephen Gleasner, Garrett Hack, Matthew Hill, Beth Ireland, Alan Lacer, James Macdonald, Austin Matheson, Mason McBrien, John McAlevey, Jere Osgood, Michael Puryear, Chris Pye, Brian Reid, Kevin Rodel, Tim Rousseau, Pete Schlebecker, David Upfill-Brown and John Whalley.

The center's instructors come from the United States, Canada, Australia, and England.


Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, 25 Mill St., Rockport, ME 04856. Tel: 207-594-5611.

San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association, P.O. Box 82323, San Diego, CA 92138.

This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue.

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