considers herself "an
artist who works in wood," which she describes as "a
beautiful material." Right now, much of that work is focused on
the digital process, as she creates laser marquetry kits.
In graduate school, Christy said, she
really wanted to get into the digital manufacturing process, in part
because she was living in a very small apartment without much floor
space, "so I was hanging things on the wall." Those
"things" included flat, folded furniture she created.
She created several prototypes of
chairs first, then a bedside table, then lamps. In order to have the
ability to laser cut her projects for her thesis show Master of Fine
Arts program at San Diego State University, where she studied with
Wendy Maruyama, Christy worked several hours a week for a company
with a CNC router; in return, she got to cut the pieces for her show
without needing to pay the $300/hour fee to rent the equipment.
That experience led to her getting her
own laser-cutting machine later. Part of the appeal of laser cutting, she said, is
"its exactness. It lends itself to a perfectionist like me."
That exactness also means, "there's zero waste with the folding
furniture. You cut it and put it back together as is, with a little
machining around the edges."
Her favorite piece of the folding
furniture is her Crane Chair, inspired by an origami crane. "I
was working with origami inspirations; everything I did, I did in
paper first to figure out the folding
pattern before I would mock it
up in wood." The chair shows the sort of lines and creases that
you would see it you folded a paper origami crane, then unfolded it
and lay it flat. Also, Christy said, when you take the chair off the
wall "the crane wings aren't spreading yet. When you get the
chair to where you see the origami crane, it lets you know the
folding process is completed."
Christy considers chairs the most
interesting of her folding furniture line. "It's a nice, big
piece when it hangs on the wall," she said. "It lends
itself to more of a graphic, almost like a canvas, and I can do my
laser design and my marquetry on it."
Her current focus is graphic patterns in marquetry
, which she is selling as kits. "They are all
repeating patterns, which could do any size," Christy said. They
came in response to inquiries she received from other woodworkers
and, "my hope is that people will see these and get interested
in the craft and into laser," Christy said.
"Digital woodworking and laser
manufacturing is kind of new to the woodworking community," she
said. "It's a new tool, and it's a different mindset from the
traditional woodworker. Many traditional woodworkers are a little
scared to get into the world of CNC. But it's a new tool to master,
just like a new bit on your router table, or something like that."
Christy does, indeed, use the
traditional type of power tools, such as table saws and routers, in
her shop -- the machining for her folding furniture is done on the
And she thinks
it's important for
beginning and student woodworkers to learn how to use those tools
before venturing into digital woodworking. "It's hard to
introduce a tool like that and have them want to use a table saw
instead of a shiny new tool," she explained.
Christy herself got into woodworking
and furniture making through school. Although she's "worked with
furniture for a long time" -- her mother has a furniture
reupholstery shop in the basement of her house -- it was after
studying interior design that Christy decided she wanted to get more
involved with furniture, and pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts in
furniture design from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Now, she considers herself a full-time
professional artist. Some of Christy's work is in the collection of
the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and, she
says, "I do museum shows and gallery shows and things like that.