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The Harvest of Fine Woodworking

Exotic and masterful woodworking pieces — from jewel boxes and vases to simple cutting boards and heirloom tables and chairs — will be offered for sale this weekend at the 30th annual Harvest of Fine Woodworking Show in Ashland.

This year's show, held by 20 members of the Siskiyou Woodcraft Guild, will feature many items designed for tighter budgets in the present recession, woodworkers say.

The show runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, at Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Great Hall, 70 N. Main St., Ashland. Admission is free.

The show features fine woodworking intended to be useful in daily life and serve as treasures that will survive many generations as a remembrance of the giver, said guild president Tom Phillips of Ashland.

"It's in our guild's tradition to make things that last," said Phillips, "with the idea that it will be an heirloom, a sort of remembrance, say, for someone's granddaughter, something she will always talk about as ordered by grandma — and also representing the hardwoods and wood products tradition of Southern Oregon."

Phillips' offerings at the show include a madrone Shaker hope chest and a burl maple coffee table that's "colorful and dynamic."

Most fine woodworking is custom order. Woodworkers at the show will be able to describe how their art is done, discuss desired projects and make appointments to take measurements and provide estimates, said show coordinator Alan Mohr.

"At the show, we'll have a lot of low-priced works, like cutting boards, bowls, vases," said Mohr, "with higher-priced items also, all solid wood, no manufactured materials, like plywood, sometimes exotic woods, going up to tables and chairs at several thousand dollars."

The show appeals to people who don't have any knowledge of fine woodworking, but will enjoy learning about it, Mohr said.

"You won't find many of these items at the mall," he said.

Shoppers at the show typically marvel at the skill and perfection required to execute the pieces.

Said Phillips, "It does take a lot of knowledge, a huge amount of patience, mastery of a lot of detail and subtlety "¦ and we all have to make a lot of mistakes to get here."

Dan Tilden of Ashland, a younger woodworker whom the 60-member Guild helped sponsor this summer at the Anderson Ranch School of Arts in Colorado, will be offering wood turnings — mainly bowls and vases, "with several smaller, affordable pieces, because of the recession."

Jerry Work, who executed the Native American-themed "We Are Here" sculpture at the entry of downtown Ashland, has executed a line of furniture with simple construction that can appeal to younger buyers and those on a budget.

He's offering a shoe bench (place to sit and take off and store your shoes) at $500, blanket chest at $800, a purple heart (a South American wood) and maple burl hospitality sideboard at $2,000, and unusual carved cutting boards in the $200 to $300 range. Prices are approximate.

"The show is the finest woodworking show in Southern Oregon and one of the best in the U.S. It's a fly-in show," said Work. "People fly in just for this and also for the Ashland Festival of Light on the first night. They're looking for fine woodcraft and a fun weekend."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Top: A hollow vessel made of Fiddleback Maple by Dan Tilden of Ashland. Below: A set of vessels made from Mountain Mahoganey by Tilden. - Mail Tribune file photo