Eben Blaney’s furniture featured at Smithsonian Craft Show

Posted:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - 8:00am
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Edgecomb fine furniture craftsman Eben Blaney has been chosen as one of 120 artists throughout the U.S. to be featured at the 36th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show that starts April 25. 

This will be the second time his artful handmade furniture will be shown at the event. His creations were chosen for the 2015 show, too.

Blaney’s pieces, many of them one-of-a-kind, are designed to be artistic as well as functional, and are the result of over 20 years of custom furniture building and experimentation with forms, combinations of shapes, and colors, using carefully selected hardwoods.

Blaney was humble when asked why he thought his work was chosen to be shown at the prestigious show. “You know, there are a lot of great woodworkers and designers out there, but they don’t necessarily try to get into this, or other shows.

“But (the judges for this show) are very selective, and it has a very good reputation. I’m not in the Smithsonian, but this is associated with that,” he said.

Blaney said that with so many aspects to running his business that take a lot of time, besides making the pieces, it can be difficult to make money. “But I have to make money, and I’ve been really lucky to be able to do things that I love to do, and find an audience that appreciates it.”

Everywhere you look in Blaney's studio, there are boards and pieces of the wood, mostly the hardwoods like walnut, mahogany, maple, white oak and blackwood, that he uses for his contemporary-looking creations. “I design my furniture to be relatively spare, yet elegant and useful, carefully selecting and using the most beautiful hardwoods available. I like clean, modern lines and employ a 'less is more' approach.”

He described the forms of some of his pieces as zoomorphic, or having animal traits. “Anthromorphic is giving animals human traits, and this is the opposite.” One new piece he calls “the crane table” resembles a crane. “I like the way the back leg sticks out, looking like it’s stretching.”

Three weeks before the show starts, Blaney was fine-tuning the crane table he may or may not take to the show, and he said he was going to paint it Bermuda blue. The wood used in this piece is poplar, so painting it is an option he doesn’t often use on some of the more exotic, beautiful, costly woods. He may opt to take the natural mahogany one instead.

The artist plans to take 10 to 12 different designs to the show.

The Smithsonian Women’s Committee organizes the event and selected Blaney from a pool of around 1,000 applicants. The Smithsonian Craft Show website states: ‘This nationally recognized event is an opportunity to connect with major craft artists who are leaders in their respective media.  Serious collectors and casual visitors alike will find one-of-a-kind works of art in all price ranges.’

The show at the National Building Museum runs from April 26 to April 29, with an invitation-only preview night on April 25.

Blaney grew up in Boothbay Harbor, where his father, boatbuilder Roy Blaney, built over two dozen sailboats in his shop in the harbor.

Visit the Eben Blaney Fine Contemporary Furniture studio and showroom at 96 Eddy Road in Edgecomb.