Tom Huang – Studio Projects

Spencer Museum reception kiosk
March 18, 2013, 10:58 am
Filed under: Art, Bamboo, Design, Furniture



Progress shots


Feature on design-milk!
January 21, 2012, 12:32 pm
Filed under: Bamboo, Design, Furniture

Featured on design-milk. com

All work and no play….
May 10, 2011, 1:03 pm
Filed under: Bamboo Canoe, Design


As the saying goes, “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy” My studio practice includes a strict regiment of play. Sometimes it is metaphorical; when I am engaged in a creative exploration where the intention is to try hard not to be self-critical of the outcomes. Other times, it is play!

My most recent play experience was a solo trip out to Clinton lake here in Lawrence. What started out as a leisurely two day camp, turned into a weekend research project on the performance of the Bamboo Canoe. The varying conditions on the lake this weekend were a perfect proving ground to study the characteristics of the canoe’s Rob Roy inspired shape.

Conditions on Thursday:

During gusty times, small white caps appeared making for an exciting ride. Moving down wind I was able to catch a few swells for a short ride on the surf.
In general I felt in control and balanced. Despite the wind, the boat tracked evenly, the key was to ballast the boat with the gear.

I was traveling with 40 Lb. pack. I found that tucked directly in front of me, with my legs wrapped around the pack, the boat felt even more stable (our center of gravity had to have been right at the waterline.)

When headed into the waves, there was a rare wave that would throw spray into the boat. My thoughts immediately moved toward designing a spray skirt that would extend the bow-deck. A design that could be clipped onto the stem band and then to the scuppers on the gunwales.

Friday, two neighbors moved into the next site. Highly enthusiastic about the boat, the were quick to overlook their original annoyance that I had arrive a day earlier to claim the picturesque site that perches wonderfully above the lake.

Mike and Marcos were keen on giving me feed back on the boat. On saturday, morning, the weather cleared and the warm condition tempted me into a swim. Before my departure, they each took a turn paddling, they helped me document a stability test, and with a gps they brought along, we were able to track my top speed on the water. On a short burst, I accelerated to 7.2 mph.

I’m hoping Mike and Marcos will drop me a link to the video they shot of the stability test.


Canoe Derivatives – technical advances in strip construction
April 7, 2010, 10:39 am
Filed under: Art, Bamboo, Bamboo Canoe, Design, Furniture

I’ve been pushing hard on some new work getting ready for my next show at Wexler Gallery in Philadelphia.  It opens may 7th, 2010. I’m also so honored to be able to say that this is a joint show with Tom Hucker (see link).  Tom has been a hero to me for a while now, so I’m swelling with pride.  I’m really excited about where the work is going, and have really made some  technical changes/advances to the process in order to achieve the forms you see below.

These came from a sketch that arrived in my sketchbook sometime toward the end of the canoe experience (while I was editing the video that documents the inspiration, construction, and launching of the canoe -see link below).  A series of 6 forms were generated on a software program called Rhino, from which I was able to cut and print out cross section, similar to the canoe making process.  The program generates each compound curvilinear surface from 4 bounding curves that I define.   From there the process is similar to that of the construction of the canoe as documented in the video, with the following exceptions.

I’ve had to change the strip dimension.  I’ve cut the strips in half to create a more square cross section, this allows each piece to bend more evenly in both directions.

I’ve introduced Hot Glue as a clamping mechanism, a trick that maker and artist Rob Macks of Laughing Loon Canoes showed me when I visited his studio.  This replaces the wedging system documented in the video.


The bamboo was very clear in communicating it’s thresholds.  I was able coax a bit more flexibility by creating a humidor and moisturizing the the individual strips.  Steam bending would have worked as well, but not practical with this many strips!!!

Special thanks to my student/studio assistant Andrew Williams for all his help

Photo Credit: Aaron Paden

I hope to have three cocktail tables to show together in May.  I’ve chosen to do the three on the right in the rendering, primarily because it seemed like they would push the bending capacity of the bamboo strips in different ways – in wood working terms, bowed (warped along the length), crooked (warped along the edge),  and twisted (like a Twizzler although my favorite sweets are Skittles).



Ken Tomita – Project Chaboo
November 20, 2009, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Bamboo

Community is a term that seems to be quickly evolving.  With the advent of Twitter, Facebook, and other social network conduits, the possibility to connect with other like minded people from a physical distance seems to become more and more boundless.  Ken Tomita is a furniture maker, artist, visionary and community leader extraordinaire based in Portland, Oregon.  I was introduced to Ken about a year ago, but had been made aware of our similar interest by Master bamboo weaver and Artist, Jiro Yonezawa and his wife Kate almost two years before that.  I became aware of Ken’s passion for community when  he introduced me to a project he was developing.  I was immediately taken by the idea, and thrilled/honored when he agreed to let me participate within 5 minutes of our meeting for the first time!  Since it’s original manifestation, Project Chaboo has gone on to a second incarnation.  It’s a great concept, and I hope more are to come!!!  Check out the site –  Project chaboo.

Fellow Fellows
November 18, 2009, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Bamboo Canoe, Center for furniture Craftsmanship

Transitioning back into life at home has proven to be more challenging than transitioning into life at the CFC.  The day-to-day is packed with myriad things that demand immediate attention.  With young kids, long gone are the focused days of time in the workshop.  But with the distance of time and space, I’m still left with a feeling of fondness and deep respect for the people and work happening at the Center.  My fellow Fellows, were a huge part of my experience, and although I’ve alluded to their help on my project, their individual gifts and their work had an enormously positive impact on me.

To generalize, the care and dedication of all of these individuals was paramount.   “Hard working” might be one way to describe  what I witnessed, but it seems that the word “hard” implies both “difficulty” and “toil”.  Both of these subsequent words are a bit askew when describing what I experienced.  Although there were many elements to the work that was being done that I would certainly qualify as technically “difficult,”(and it is safe to say that all the Fellows constantly challenged themselves in this respect) it was most notable that the spirit with which the Fellows approached their work was one of zest and joy.  If there was any element of  “toil,” it was certainly met with an equal amount of “playfulness.”

If handwork were to be used as a metaphor, it is needless to say that I hope to keep in touch with them all, and that our friendship has the comfort, warmth and familiarity of a favorite pair of gloves.

Brian Reid - Head Fellow - Wise and True Craftsman

I met Brian a few years ago and immediately admired his “centered” demeanor.  In getting to know him better during this visit, I enjoyed the keen wit in his humor and the sincerity in his willingness to share and teach.  His beautiful work and eye for design playfully incorporates marquetry and color.  I came away remembering the importance of thinking deeply and acting confidently.

Reed Hansuld - Bright, rising star

Reed is always cool and composed.  His immense talent is also paired with a humility and graciousness.  He is passionate about being a furniture maker, and with his focus I can only assume his future to be wherever he wants to take it.  I know I’ll strive to emulate his drive and focus.  I can only wish to have his Canadian bred slap-shot, which I got to witness during his first game of the season.  Have Fun!

Tyler Killian - The Natural

Tyler Killian - The Natural

At 18, Tyler impresses me with his clarity and gift.  His work has the beauty of a singular confident brushstroke.  Although I never got a picture of the stool he’s sitting on, it is beautifully crafted and emerged seemingly effortlessly in just a short day and a half.  The shaped seat is crisp and beautifully contoured like the Maine landscape which I hope we will hike together someday soon.

Vince Scully - New Horizons

Vince made a life change recently.  After 30 + years as a contractor, he dissolved his partnership in a successful business to follow a calling. He brings all of his construction experience to a new scale, and now as a furniture maker his eyes for detail twinkle with each stroke of his finely tuned Lie-Nielsen Shoulder Plane (which he graciously loaned to me on various occasions).  His skill and talent are only surpassed by his willingness to try new things.  I’m inspired by his approach to life and hope to continue evolving as he has.

The beauty of the CFC is in its small scale, the fellows were not the only people that impacted me during my time there.  I was touched deeply by many; by their genuine interest, insight, wisdom, and care.  I’d like to think that I’ve made lasting friendships, and hope to soon be reunited whether it be in the studio, across a handmade table, on a trail, or on the water in a canoe.

Progress and “Completion”
October 29, 2009, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Bamboo Canoe

Fairing/smoothing the edge of the hull to accept the gunwales.

Inwales are fitted and trimmed to the stems first, and then glued and clamped to the hull.

Decks were fitted and brass screws placed through the walls of the hull and through the in-wales prior to glueing up the out-wales.

Two layers of varnish (for now...I'll complete 5-6 total before it's done.) and she's ready for the first float.

Finished and ready to float.

It’s been almost two week since my last post.  It was a mad push.  I had set a personal goal to float the BambooCanoe in Maine, and part of that goal was to float it with my two kids for the first time.  The day after the last post, Shelli and the kids flew into Portland for a week-long visit.  Basically, I had to get the boat suitable to float by Thursday the 22nd, because we had plans to drive down the coast for a weekend getaway on Friday the 23rd.  So I’ve been finishing the boat late into the nights, and spending time with the family during the days…burning the candle from both ends.  I’ve also been packing myself up to leave the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, which I did on the 27th.  Needless to say, its been an intense two weeks and in hindsight,  quite an amazing month.  I know this blog has been mostly about the BambooCanoe, but I have much to share about the amazing people I’ve been grateful to meet during my time in Maine, but I’ve had a few request to get more up about the boat.  As I’m en route driving back to Kansas, I’m limiting this post to an update on the BambooCanoe.  Please stay tuned to see the video of the first launching also.  I’m having to reformat the video for up-loading.