Hayward Zwerling’s Creations
Why do I make things?
Sometimes there is a specific need that prompts me to make something. For example, I needed a chest of drawers in my bedroom and a small table in front of my sofa (boomerang table,) and my wife needed some additional kitchen cabinet storage. After the need for the item was identified, the next step was to come up with a creative solution that would engage the viewer, more on that topic below.
Sometimes I come up with an idea for a project which is independent of a “need,” but based on a “concept.” For example, I visited the Picasso sculpture exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City some years ago and realized that Picasso serially eliminated the nonessential elements of an object until all that was left was the essence of the object. With this concept in mind, I created my first giraffe (7 feet tall) who resided in my living room for a period of time. I subsequently decided I needed to make a full-scale giraffe and that led to Big Poppy (the 16 feet tall father, and a play on the name of one of the Boston Red Sox’s greatest baseball players.) As this pair was not properly constructed, they survived a few New England seasons before they succumbed to the elements. As I observed that people were taken by the sculptures, I decided that I needed to build them with outdoor durability in mind and add an interactive component, the movement of the giraffe ears. In much the same vein, an interactive Elly the Elephant was created. Watching people interact with these sculptures always makes me smile.
Another “concept“ driven project was my rosewood chest of drawers. My goal was to make the drawers look like they were of random sizes and without a pattern. I couldn’t figure out how to make them truly random while ensuring each drawer was of functional size. Ultimately there is symmetry in the design of the drawers, although it’s not immediately obvious.
The cutting board and coasters arose from a desire to make an item that appeared to be constructed from random pieces of wood and would challenge the observe to figure out how it was constructed. I am still exploring the potential of this construction technique.
My picture frames were (mostly) designed to challenge the traditional dogma that the purpose of a frame is purely to enhance the contained picture and the frame should not make its own statement but should fade into the background.
One of the near-universal principles of my creations is to build an object that will engage the viewer either intellectually or emotionally. For example, the “rotated” picture frame #1 and #2 are frames which are rotated about 30° with respect to the picture within the frame. When I watched a couple argue with each other as to whether the bottom of the frame or the bottom of the picture should be parallel to the ground in knew that my rotated frame was a success.
Another example is “engaging the viewer is my zebrawood “box” on the wall. My goal was to create the illusion that a three-dimensional box was attached to the wall, when in fact the “box” is less than 1 inch thick. When one of my daughter’s friends saw the “box” on the wall, and said, “why would anybody hang a box on the wall?” I smiled as I knew I had succeeded.
I consider all of my projects prototypes and as such I’m not interested in spending a lot of time creating the perfect dovetail or using only hand tools. My goal is to build the project expeditiously, toward the envisaged outcome and in the hope that my construction techniques will be adequately precise so that build quality does not detract from the essential elements of the project. I am certain that a professional woodworker could make my projects far more elegantly than I am capable of doing.
None of my projects are for sale as I am not looking for a monetary reward from building the creation. My reward is to watch people interact with my project, either emotionally or intellectually, and when that happens I smile, knowing that I have succeeded. As a result, I don’t want to sell my projects and be parted from them as I would lose the opportunity of watching people interact with my projects.
I will keep making things as long as it’s fun and the objects continue, however lightly, to touch the soul of another person.