Enriching lives through art and craft

Charlie Ryland: Woodworker ExtraordinA-I-Re

The lovely Charlie Ryland comes to Arrowmont as our resident woodworker. He makes elegant furniture using traditional techniques that require few power tools.  He works mostly in green wood (as in wet, not the color). He begins each piece with a log, which he splits and shaves using a collection of antique hand tools.


In addition to being really cool, this technique helps to retain the natural strength of the wood. He has even used the properties of green wood to make sturdy chairs that don’t require glue!


(Side note: Charlie has promised to teach me how to cut down a tree this year, so stay tuned for that important future blog post.)

Charlie trained formally at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, Massachusetts, where he primarily studied fine cabinetmaking and traditional 17th and 18th century furniture making.  He also assisted in his dad’s custom cabinet shop starting as a kid.


These days, Charlie is most dedicated to producing furniture typical of working-class households of the past. He is fascinated by the relationship between functional objects and the body, as well as the role American mythology and history plays in the production of objects.


He finds that the challenge of completing a piece of functional furniture with strict boundaries leaves plenty of room for his creativity, skills, and judgement to flourish. Charlie’s attention to detail, talent for design, and careful eye are quite evident in all his work!


Charlie is a super fun and active guy. You might find him doing pull-ups on the swinging pull-up rocks he installed at the residents’ studios (so strong!). After school, he spent a while driving around the country and living in a 1986 Toyota van; that is, until he ran out of money and took up residence on a goat farm in New Mexico (as a farmer, not as a goat).


In college, Charlie built a loft hanging off of the i-beams in his skinny-but-tall dorm room, earning him years of campus notoriety. We are all looking forward to the ways his energy and enthusiasm will manifest here at Arrowmont.


Some of Charlie’s creative goals at Arrowmont include collaborating with peers and engaging deeply with the amazing community of artists here. He is also open to experimenting in non-functional woodworking and other weird artsy entanglements. Stop by and say hey to Charlie, you won’t be disappointed!


-Julia Gartrell


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