For Michaela Stone, furniture making brings together all the things she is passionate about: sculpture, engineering and nature. She has always loved the great outdoors and has a knack for science and math. As an undergraduate at Skidmore College, she embarked on a path to become a neuroscientist, but found laboratory work too constraining. “I missed my connection to the outdoors,” she said. So she chose a major in art, with a focus on sculpture and painting, instead.
Today, at 25, Stone has already made her mark as a furniture designer. Her Sinuate Chair won the award for Best Original Design at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship’s Maine Wood 2014 exhibition, a juried, biennial show. She was one of 40 artisans that entered work.
“Michaela possesses a wonderful combination of discipline, aesthetic vision and technical aptitude,” said Peter Korn, the Center’s executive director. “I look forward to seeing where her creative curiosity leads.”
Stone has flourished at the Center—in addition to her time as a student, she has earned a fellowship and now works there part-time as she pursues a career in furniture making.
“My work walks the line between art and functionality,” said Stone. “I think of myself as floating between art and craft and design.” The Sinuate Chair, constructed of ash, steel and leather, features lines that follow one another and curve along the same path.
Stone’s work not only draws its inspiration from nature, the materials are also locally sourced.
“I’m all about locally sourced raw materials and labor. For the most part, I only use wood that is sourced in the Northeast,” she said. “There is a growing movement with food, craft and material goods where people value sourcing locally and giving jobs to their neighbors. Supporting local farmers and craftspeople promotes economic and environmental responsibility, but it also promotes investing in quality.”
It’s one of the attributes she most likes about her new sharpening tools from DMT Diamond Machining Technology, a company that manufactures all of its products at home in its Marlborough, Massachusetts facility. As a Maine Wood Show sponsor, DMT provided Stone with two 8-inch DuoSharp® Bench Stones featuring continuous and interrupted surfaces with coarse, medium, fine and extra-fine grits.
“What I love about the DMT sharpeners is how consistent, flat and true they are,” said Stone, whose previous experience with sharpeners was primarily with waterstones. “But, while they get divots, the DMT stones stay flat no matter what.” In fact, Stone uses her DMT bench stones to flatten her waterstones.
“DMT has been a proud sponsor of the Maine Wood Show since 2011,” said DMT President Mark Brandon. “We appreciate the chance to provide our best-in-class diamond sharpeners to the next generation of woodworkers and furniture builders.”
After featuring her Sinuate Chair at the Maine Wood 2014 show, Stone sold the piece to a collector who then commissioned her to make a table in the same design. Again, Stone concentrated on procuring the raw materials from regional forests and creating a piece that incorporates the same sinuous lines as the chair.
Lately, Stone has been turning wood to explore new ways of incorporating her artistic background with her love for woodworking. “It’s been a fun way to explore more sculptural forms in a different language,” she said.
No matter the language—or the medium—Michaela Stone is a true talent whose passion for nature and love of engineering result in fine furniture that is both functional and artistic.