Artist Spotlight Shaun Fleming
BD introduces the amazing woodwork of Shaun Fleming. She shares her story of how she came to work in wood.
Q:Where do you live?
A:I live on the island of Maui, out in the country.
Q:What mediums do you work in and what is your favorite?
A:I am a professional woodworker and build custom wooden furniture and other wooden works of art. I enjoy using copper, silver, aluminum and mother of pearl in my inlay and also as construction elements in my pieces.
Q:What are your other hobbies, and are they related to your artwork?
A:I enjoy being outdoors and spend my spare time surfing, diving, fishing and hiking. The majority of my inspiration and design comes from nature. Being surrounded by the ocean and mountains has a strong influence on my work.
Q: How did you get started and what was the evolution of your style?
A: I am self-taught and began woodworking as a hobby. When I was young I always enjoyed tinkering and working with my hands, fixing whatever needed to be repaired. My first woodworking job was as a sander in a cabinet shop. After about six months of that, I had had more than enough and figured I could make small projects on my own. One small project led to another and eventually I began acquiring some tools. I had caught the bug. I read a lot and also attended a few demonstrations by visiting woodworkers.
I don’t know if I can put a name to the style of my design. Being I have not been professionally trained I have never felt any restrictions or strong pull towards any one genre. This is an asset to me as I am not stuck in any one particular style, there is really no right or wrong and gives me the flexibility to explore and create what comes to mind.
Q: What goes into the making of one of your pieces?
A: Much of the wood I use is salvaged from dying trees, like Koa, native only to Hawaii. The feeling of taking a dying tree, hauling it out of the mountains, cutting it, drying it, and machining it is hard work but very rewarding. This process can sometimes take years to get it to the point of actually turning it into a finished piece.
Q: What is the hardest aspect of your art?
A: Working with clients is a rewarding and challenging part of my job. The process of taking a client’s general idea and creating a custom work of functioning art is a huge part of designing a successful piece. My aim is to feel I have exceeded the person’s vision and convey a feeling or image that brings joy to them.
Q: What brings you the most satisfaction or sense of accomplishment?
A: I most enjoy doing marquetry, commonly known as inlay. I use this technique to create nature and seascape/ocean inspired images from an assortment of wood species, metals, and mother of pearl. Finding the right wood species, color, grain orientation and texture to create pictures in wood is both challenging and exciting.
Q: Is there a message or theme behind your artwork?
A: I believe the art of marquetry is a dying craft. By incorporating it into my work I feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that I am building an heirloom-quality piece that can be passed on for generations.
I hope to continue doing marquetry and be presented with the challenge to create more complex and elaborate pieces for people to enjoy. I would be delighted to hear from any Bloodydecks reader who would like me to build them a one-of-a-kind piece.
Q: How can our viewers learn more about your work?
Thanks to Shaun for sharing her amazing talent with us.