When it comes to the furniture in Gordon Allen’s home, if it’s not upholstered, chances are Allen made it.
“I’ve just about made every piece of furniture in the house,” said Allen, a military retiree who works as an investigative operations assistant in the Criminal Investigation Division Office. “I’ve made several beds, bookcases, entertainment centers (and) numerous cedar chests.”
Allen, who has been woodworking since he was 16 years old, continues to make furniture and recently made a crib and changing table for his first grandchild at the Arts and Crafts Center.
“It gives me something to do with my hands, something to try different, different ways of working the wood, putting it together different ways, just seeing if things will work. Sometimes they don’t,” he said. “It’s a fluid thing at times.”
Even Allen gets stuck from time to time, he admitted, but said he enjoys the challenge and likes tinkering with wood. He also said he enjoys the company of fellow woodworkers and spends many of his evenings after work at the Arts and Crafts Center.
“I spend a lot of my time up there helping other people that are in the craft shop do their projects, especially when I don’t have a big project going on,” Allen said. “I especially like the people that run the craft shop. They are very, very knowledgeable. They are extremely helpful.”
As for the woodworking, although Allen has enough furniture at home, he continues to make pieces for Family, friends and even regulars at the center simply for the pleasure of working with wood.
“It’s like any other hobby.
You’ve got to really want to be dedicated to it and learn about it, and know that it’s the satisfaction of making that piece of furniture,” he said.
The projects that come out of the center run the gamut from smaller pieces, like cutting boards and chess boards, to larger pieces, like four-poster beds, according to Marilyn Paras, art specialist, Arts and Crafts Center.
“This last summer – this was to me like the ultimate because I just couldn’t believe it – (one patron) made a wood surfboard. It was absolutely gorgeous,” Paras said. “We always have something unique, and I think that’s what’s so wonderful about this job is because everyone comes in with their own ideas and their own thoughts.”
A wood safety class is offered twice a month and is required for anyone wishing to use the wood shop. The wood safety class fee is $10.
“The very first-time user of the Arts and Crafts Center, we ask you to take an orientation class. Depending upon what area will depend upon how in-depth we go,” Paras said. “The woodshop is primarily all on safety and how we use the machinery.”
Allen encouraged newcomers interested in woodworking to get oriented and start slowly.
“I would come up, take the safety course, start with something small and take your time, and take the advice of the people (who) are trying to help you,” he said.
Wood is available for purchase at the Arts and Crafts Center.
“We have all different kinds of wood,” Paras said. “We have something simple, like poplar and pine, and then we also have some really nice woods, like red oak, maple, walnut ... And, we carry oak and birch veneer plywood.”
Arts and Crafts also offers classes and tools for matting, framing, laser etching, scrapbooking, crochet, knitting, sewing and more.
“A lot of nice things are made up in that craft shop, and that I am sure, are getting passed on to generations,” Allen said. “Hopefully, the furniture that I’ve made for the house, the kids will like, and they’ll take it and they’ll use it once my wife and I are gone.”
For more information, call 785-239-9205.
By Julie Fiedler
1ST INF. DIV. POST
PHOTO: Joe Colbert, instructor, Arts and Crafts Center, demonstrates proper use of a band saw during a Wood Safety class May 7 at the Arts and Crafts Center. The safety class is offered twice a month and is a requirement for newcomers interested in doing woodworking at the Arts and Crafts Center. (Julie Fiedler | POST)