Don King and the Walla Walla Bent Willow Chair Building Workshop
I wrote in my last post that:
“Last spring, my friend Doug S. called me and said that R.L. was organizing a Bent Willow Chair Building Workshop. R.L. had arranged for Don King of Challis, Idaho to come to Walla Walla to teach the workshop.”
I talked with R.L. and was intrigued by this chair building opportunity but I didn’t know anything about Don King. I did a Google search to find Don’s website so that I could see some of his work and learn a little about him.
I couldn’t immediately find a website. Since Don shares the same name as a Professional Boxing Promoter, of some repute, it seemed possible that Don’s website Google listing was buried many pages down. I did find a nice Idaho Arts Quarterly article about Don, his work and his background and that was good enough for me. I contacted R.L. and signed up for the workshop.
I had some time before the workshop, so I leisurely gathered up the recommended tools and a bunch more just for good measure. Then I began looking through my library for any books related to rustic, twig, willow, and/or Adirondack furniture.
I located the book, “Making Rustic Furniture”, by Daniel Mack. I had purchased the book, a couple of years ago, because of a picture of a chair that Mack had built. He had incorporated antique woodworking tools into the back of the chair and this intrigued me because I had built a table with wrenches for “leg supports”.
After I purchased the Mack book, I read it cover-to-cover and studied each and every picture carefully. I looked at the book again before the workshop. Much to my surprise, there were four pictures of Don King chairs surrounding the picture of the Mack chair that had inspired me to purchase the book…
So back to the Don King Google search… the reason that I couldn’t find Don’s website is because he doesn’t have one. In fact, during the workshop he mentioned that he thought that he was going to have to purchase his first computer. He said that he now needs one to register for shows and send in digital pictures of his work.
Don clearly has not been swept up into the digital age. I think his lifestyle might be regarded by some as alternative or as living “off of the grid”. But I would say that Don’s work is just an extension of his lifestyle.
His work is so smooth and flowing that “Mother Nature” could have said: “Don here are some tree saplings… please build something for me.” Individuals that work with wood are often known as artisan/craftsmen but in Don’s case you can drop the craftsman and just say artist. This is not to diminish Don’s craftsmanship – it is exquisite – however it is his artistic “eye” that elevates his work to the top of his genre.
My next post will include pictures of the “build”.