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Wood and Color

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Monday, February 25, 2008

ImageMarjin Wall took up woodworking because she needed furniture for the house she moved into to attend Reed College in Portland in the 1970s. “I didn’t own any furniture, so I signed up for a wood projects class at Portland Community College so that I could make a desk for myself,” she says.After college, the Vermont native returned to the East Coast and earned a law degree before relocating to Portland, where she practiced corporate law for several years before retiring. Now she owns a safety-supply business, which gives her time to work with wood.

The candlesticks (right) are turned in the woodshop behind her home,
a hip-roofed 800-square-foot studio, which contains a lathe, a band saw, and small power and hand tools. While Wall makes some furniture such as small tables, she concentrates on smaller pieces like bowls, candlesticks and peppermills. “The smaller pieces allow me to test color schemes and ideas I have for larger pieces,” she says. “Plus, I’m more likely to finish a smaller piece. When I have other things going on, it’s easy to get sidetracked.”

The candlesticks are made from small chunks of leftover wood. “I use all kinds of wood—maple, walnut and other local woods. I get chunks that are leftover gunstock blanks, which have nice grains and patterns.”
She makes each candlestick from two or three pieces of wood joined with mortise-and-tenon joints, and finishes it with coats of milk paint. “I like to manipulate the colors and try lots of different things,” says Wall. “If a finish doesn’t turn out, I sand it off and try again.” The heights of the candlesticks vary (the tallest is about a foot); they are 41/2 inches wide at the top. Each candlestick is $100.

Contact Marjin Wall through the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery (335 State St., 503-581-3229 or zeekgallery.com) in Salem, Ore.