Robert Zlomke

Robert Zlomke

I always start with the material.  My wood comes from a variety of sources, including commercially milled hardwoods from a regional dealer, locally salvaged urban trees, and occasional items that I find. 

Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to make before I have the wood, and sometimes it’s the other way round.  In either case, knots, waney edges and the other so-called defects that I find in the wood – what might be called, in general, character marks – are a source of inspiration and may be featured prominently in the piece, as part of the natural randomness of the tree, in opposition to the geometric lines imposed by the design;  or the very design may be based on individual peculiarities of a board. 

My designs usually start with a plain modern style, but before I have finished there are more curves and angles than one might expect.  I enjoy working with contrasting woods, frequently using the contrast in color and figure to bring out a curving joint line, and occasionally there is visible exposed joinery.

I use a mix of hand and machine processes, choosing the methods that seem most efficient for making one or a few pieces at a time in a one-person shop of 950 square feet.  Frequently some elements of a design are discovered during fabrication, and I figure out how to produce them on the fly.

Everything I make is intended to be used.