Whittlin’ in Portland

It’s been much too hectic of late. I’ve been getting an inkling of what it must be like to be a professional musician now that I’ve taken the whittling’ show on the road. I was in Portland a few weeks ago for just my second trip up there. I prepped by watching back episodes of Portlandia (which everyone in Portland seems to relish) and Grimm – so I was prepared for almost anything.

I was whisked to the über-hip Ace Hotel on the edge of the very trendy (in a sou’wester and beanie way) Pearl District. I knew I had arrived! The lobby was full of delicious young things with very expensive looking shaggy haircuts sipping on excellent latte’s from the adjacent Stumptown Coffee store. I could live here with coffee this good!

Ace's über-hip foyer - lattes, digital devices, people watching.

Inside the Ace Hotel is pretty cool too. Bedrooms have signature blankets on the beds and wallpaper made of encyclopedia pages with hand painted murals.

More like Cicely than Portland

Read the walls!

I felt like an extra on the sequel to Barton Fink

I got to spend some quality shopping time at the Filson’s flagship store and other Pearl District gems. And stumbled across the Bullseye Glass HQ and gallery where I was pleased to see the “Canberra Connection”. An exhibition of the great work coming out of the glass program at the ANU School of Art  (my alma mater), including pieces by many old friends including Richard Whitely, Klaus Moje, Kirstie Rae and Giles Bettison.

Richard Whiteley

Giles Bettison

Detail of another of Giles' pieces - Murini magic

I also enjoyed this monumental work by Munson Hunt – two 8′ long, 2″ thick slabs. One of burned wood and its twin of smokey gray cast glass – with the surface texture on the glass derived from the glass burning into the wood slab.

Munson Hunt

Glass texture detail

I finally got to see the Museum of Contemporary Craft and spent the afternoon getting the full “behind the scenes” tour from its warm and whip smart Curator Namita Gupta Wiggers.

This teak door panel by Leroy Setzoil from 1966 caught my eye. I’ve been commissioned to make some large wall panels for the Highland Hospital in Oakland and am developing some solid wood wall works for the first time in my career. So I’ve got my eyes peeled for interesting precedents. I like the way Setzoil has balanced the geometric with the organic and the mark of the tool with sculptural shaping.

Leroy Setzoil - Teak door - 1966


Thanks to everyone in Portland at the Pacific North West College of Art and especially JP Reuer for the invitation and the hospitality! You can see some images from my whittlin’ workshop at PNWCA here. I’m looking forward to my next trip already!


  1. enjoyed the post! thanks- xx S


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