20 Minutes With Edward Koenig
Friday 25 May 2012
Although he primarily turns hollow forms, Edward Koenig also creates a wide array of boxes and bowls, all of which are stunning. Tegan Foley finds out more about this turner
1. Can you briefly explain the type of work you carry out?
My primary interest is in hollow vessels, although I have also created several series of boxes and bowls. I remain open to any turning possibilities.
2. Describe the view from your workshop.
I live in an area of the state of New Jersey in the USA that was farmed 30 years ago. Although it has become more populated and most of the farms have been sold to developers, I have two acres of wooded land surrounded by preserved forest and wetlands. Hardwoods, nut woods, fruitwoods and wonderful wildlife are abundant.
3. What are your current likes and dislikes within the sphere of turning?
I like that many woodturners are willing to share ideas with one another in the spirit of helping woodturning move forward as a craft. I dislike seeing quality turnings photographed poorly and I am unhappy when woodturners are unwilling to learn how to take quality photos of their work.
4. What direction do you see your work taking?
I have several interests, while I will continually pursue the exploration of beauty in pure form. I am also interested in experimenting more with surface decoration, carving, finishes and combining forged iron with my work.
5. If you could only offer one bit of advice to someone starting out turning, what would it be, and why?
I would say they should join a turning club, take courses with professional turners and attend turning symposia. Joining a turning club offers access to professional and experienced turners. Studying with professional turners will significantly speed up the learning curve by eliminating the 'trial and error' factor associated with being self-taught. Attending symposia is the best way to see who is doing what in turning, observe live demonstrations, see the latest tools and network with turners from around the world.
6. What music and which book are you into at the moment?
I have eclectic musical tastes that include classic rock, jazz and classical. I love Jeff Beck and recently discovered Joe Bonamassa, a young blues guitarist whose music has echoes of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
When it comes to reading I prefer non-fiction and am about to read Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer, and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. The 'Occupy' movements currently fascinate me along with the politics connected to the world economic situation.
7. Can you tell us about the piece you are currently working on?
I have a fascination with pods, seeds and forms in nature. I'm currently working on the next pod in this series. I usually have several projects in the planning stages and I'm always looking and collecting information to prime my mental pump. I am also working on some ideas with my wife, who is an artist, to try some collaboration using my forms and her drawing.
8. What is your biggest regret?
Like many young people, my early academic choices were incorrect for who I was. Were I to start over I would have studied arts and crafts rather than business and accounting, which I never loved or really used professionally.
9. Which turners do you most admire, and why?
Three turners come to mind, immediately; Bob Stocksdale for elevating the bowl from a functional object to an object of art; David Ellsworth for exploring the hollow vessel and developing the 'blind' turning technique and Ed Moulthrop, the father of modern woodturning, who lifted woodturning from a utilitarian craft to an art form.
10. What are your other interests in addition to your woodturning?
I have been a photographer for over 40 years and continue to find both practical and creative use for those pursuits. My father took me fishing for the first time when I was five years old. That was the beginning of my love affair with nature and fishing that continues today.