Ima B. Leever: Getting Lacquered
Issue: Issue 245.5
Posted Date: 4/1/2010
Ima B. Leever attributes her approach to wood to the home of her childhood: "All the walls were covered in knotty pine. Bunch of 'eyes' staring at me. It creeped me out."
In retaliation, Ima's signature finish for her pieces these days is seven coats of black lacquer. "Might be shiny, but leastways it's not starin' at me," she said.
Ima is actually pursuing woodworking as a second career, following approximately five and a half months as a kindergarten teacher. "Flunked 'em all out of sandbox on day three and put 'em to work – I hauled the whole class down to the high school shop during recess and had 'em use the belt sanders to shape the blocks into the pieces I needed to build with. Don't know why I got any complaints fer teachin' 'em a useful skill."
Ima does admit that the school's rainforest display during her tenure there acted as an inspiration. "Did you get a load of how many trees they got down there? That's a boatload of wood! See, I figure I could take one of those volunteer vacations, haul along a machete, and keep tying logs onto my raft on their big ole river [editor's note: that would be the Amazon]. Then I'd just float 'em on up to my place, and I'd be set for wood for a while."
In the meantime, she has other sources for her raw materials. "My neighbor over there keeps makin' some mighty good donations to the cause – I just leave the paint on the white pickets when I run 'em through the planer. Makes the yard look a little bit snowy all year.
"Now, those ones on the other side are goin' all fancy on me – looks like I'll be havin' some mahogany planks purty soon, leastwise, soon as they go off somewheres and leave the grill all out by its lonesome on that new deck.
Ima noted that she would, of course, be applying her seven coats of black lacquer to the mahogany planks once she had "acquired" them.
In response to a question about whether wood stain would not leave distinctive grains more visible, Ima responded, "Grain? Grain, schmain, I don't care about that. Only reason I work with wood is 'cause it takes a pounding best of anything I've ever tried. Can't hit a hammer onto glass and ceramics and then call it art – cause I've tried. Nope; only thing people will believe is an 'artist's statement' with them random dents in it is wood.
"What's my statement? Well, for one thing, it ticks me off when they move my shows to a different time on the TV. Makes me have to run my clicker finger too many times. So I go out and do me some pounding."