About Dovetail Wood Arts
Dovetail Wood Arts is a woodworking studio in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. With a primary focus on woodturning, Suzanne teaches adults and children the safe use of tools and machinery while exploring their innate creativity. Dovetail offers classes for absolute beginners as well as more experienced turners seeking extra support with advanced techniques. The Dovetail studio also hosts visiting artists and craftspersons for collaborative workshops and demonstrations.
Woodturning presents an opportunity for people to express themselves artistically using materials that are easy to acquire and tecniques that have been used for over 4000 years. With only a few basic tools, and imagination, students can investigate and experiment with form and function to create beautifully unique wood objects. Our students discover that woodturning is a relaxing and calming activity that blocks out the noise of their everyday lives.
I have always been a maker of things. I can't remember a time when my hands were not busy -- sewing, planting, cooking, painting. While a career in Advertising and Public Relations paid the bills, I always stayed connected with craft. When the opportunity arose to acquire the workshop equipment of a retiring craftsman I jumped at the chance to immerse myself in the world of wood craft full time.
Talent is not acquired overnight or without expert instruction though. Before opening Dovetail Wood Arts, I was a student of The Philadelphia Furniture Workshop, The Lohr School of Woodworking, The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship, David Ellsworth, and more.
As my skills developed, my focus expanded into the field of woodworking education. During the years when I was the student, I met so many people that told me how much they wished they could make things too. Kids were facinated by the tools and the prospect of making something themselves; adults expressed that they had always dreamed of doing some woodworking, but didn't have the time or equipment.
Turning wood on a lathe is one of the few woodworking practices that provides almost immediate gratification. Woodturning provides a fundemental gateway to wood craft. Those seeking a woodworking experience can make something in a few hours and take it home the same day. Using only the lathe and a few common turning tools, I introduce students to the selection and preparation of raw materials, workholding, safe practices, joinery techniques and finishing -- all aspects of fine furniture building without the steep learning curve and steeper financial investment!
I round out the Dovetail team here at Maken, as resident artist and as resident helper-person. I’m an architect turned furniture maker, with a BArch from Cooper Union, and MFA in furniture design from RISD. Dissatisfied with the enormous distance between the architect and the built product, the work I make now focuses on the direct relationship of humans with their human-scale environment, which I believe comes in large part from the maker’s familiarity in building it.
I was drawn to woodturning because of the ease with which the lathe creates doubly curved surfaces. In today’s right-angled, straight-lined world, the lathe is one of the few machines which works with us to create the doubly curved surfaces that the human body loves.