by Kathy Corey
Recently I had the pleasure to meet functional wood artist, Mindy Cooke in her woodshop barn where each piece she creates is a one of a kind in design, color and purpose. In addition to being an artist, she is the president and owner of Art by Design Furnishings. We were thrilled when she joined B Extraordinaire to share her unique talents with us. See more of her work here.
When did you begin making furniture, and what originally inspired you
to pursue that path?
I started on this path 24 years ago when I became an apprentice custom cabinet maker. As my skills progressed and I bought my first home, I realized I didn’t like any of the furniture I was finding in stores and that I didn’t want what everyone else has. I had the idea to try to make my own pieces. My first attempts were pretty basic, but I could make whatever I needed in whatever size I needed, and I could make it look how I wanted (which is addictive). Now I can really branch out and create some pretty cool pieces (in my opinion anyways lol). Over time I’ve also started creating wall hanging art pieces which I enjoy making very much and I think they allow for a colorful, warm and unique expression of art for any room.
What does being "a functional artist" mean to you?
To me it pertains to my furniture pieces and means creating pieces that serve a purpose as well as add a unique look to any space. I also tend to create pieces on a smaller scale as well, not everyone has room for or wants a 4’ x 4’ coffee table for example so I make pieces that can fit in anyone’s home.
What are some of the challenges of working with wood?
Humidity and extreme temperature changes! They wreak havoc on wood, causing shrinking or expansion and warping.
What’s your creative process?
First, I find something that will inspire me. Then I do a few rough sketches to see which I like best. Then I decide which species of wood(s) I want to use and based on that I decide what size to make it. From there it’s right into creating the piece.
What inspires your creativity?
Since I was young, I have been expressing myself creatively. I draw, paint, write poetry and photography and obviously the furniture and wood art. I am inspired by a wide range of things! For my furniture pieces, sometimes it’s the grain pattern in a particular board or a memory of a piece of furniture from my childhood or seeing a piece somewhere else and immediately see that if I made it and tweaked a few things it would look so much better. With my art pieces, I am mostly inspired by the way something made me feel or things that I find visually pleasing to me and again sometimes by a grain pattern.
What is your recommendation for beginners who are interested in working in wood?
Dive right on in! I’d love nothing more than to see more women crushing it in this field!
What is the greatest lesson you have learned as an artist?
Keep going, keep trying, keep expressing yourself
Welcome to B Extraordinaire Gallery, A Place for Artists to Share and Sell Art.