It was love at first sight when we caught a glimpse last week of local craftsman Geremy Coy's latest piece: a decorative cherry blossom panel hand-joined from hundreds of pieces of Alaskan yellow cedar. So you can imagine our surprise when we learned that the man behind the panel had only been working with wood for two years. Two!
"I was studying painting when I took up working with wood, which sounds strange, but there are underlying themes that are related," says Coy, a St. John's grad who studied philosophy during his four years in Annapolis. "For me painting was about getting inside the thing I was looking at, but I was struggling to compose something I felt really good about. So I started exploring other crafts."
Coy's decision to take up woodworking stemmed from his philosophical nature--"Van Gogh talks about taking something by the center, and that's what I wanted to do," he says--and a more tactile, roll-up-your-sleeves mentality--"I've always been a fan of home-improvement television." To get started, he read books--lots and lots of books--on the craft. He then apprenticed with a DC cabinetmaker, and has been working on his own ever since.
A self-proclaimed "itinerant woodworker," Coy starts his projects--which are all done by hand, no machines whatsoever--at a shop in Annapolis, and then finishes his pieces at home in DC. His aesthetic, he says, is about creating something that can stand on its own, that possesses "a depth, a groundedness, and a beauty." A single chair, constructed of fresh, steam-bent wood, might take a week to complete. The cherry blossom panel took two--plus about six months of research. "I came across this Japanese craft in pictures, and was immediately struck by how when you look at it, there is an awe-inspiring moment before you realize what you are truly seeing," says Coy. "It's a traditional style that isn't typically found outside of Japan. So I studied pictures, found my favorite pattern, and decided to jump right in." He has three more panels in the making, and plans to incorporate the pattern into new furniture projects.
To view Coy's portfolio, visit his website, where you'll also find information on custom pieces. "If you want to make it out of wood, I can do it!" he says.