Meet Your Maker: Sharon C. Mehrman

Sharon C. Mehrman was featured in an article that I wrote for the Springfield Republican’s Pioneer Valley Life section about Twist FairBelow is the full interview with Sharon, along with links and photographs of her work.

What’s your name, business name, where are you from and where are you now located?

My name is Sharon Mehrman and I run Sharon C. Mehrman Woodworking.  I live in Florence, MA.

How did you get your start?  Please tell me how your business went from an idea to what it is today.

My evolution into furniture making began in 1988 when I graduated from Parsons School of Design, in New York City, with a BFA in graphic design.

I began woodworking when I moved to Nantucket. Over the course of 11 years, I developed my self-taught woodworking skills by designing and building signs for the historic district.

After relocating to Northampton, I enrolled in the Hill Institute of Florence Massachusetts, where I earned my Master Furniture Maker certificate. I honed my skills used for traditional furniture making such as hand cutting mortise & tenon joinery, veneering, and carving. Using hand tools and traditional methods I create heirloom quality furniture and functional pieces of art.

In May of 2009, I made my debut at Twist 2. I devoted myself full-time to building my furniture making and home furnishings business in 2010. I have been juried into the Paradise City Arts Festival Northampton, the Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show, and most recently, the Berkshires Arts Festival to be held July 2-4 at Ski Butternut.

My business came to fruition because I am motivated by the concept that people should be able to buy quality products made in America. The things in our lives have more meaning when we know the people who make them. It is more beneficial for our society to buy fewer things of higher quality than to buy an abundance of low quality items. When we live in a way that is less wasteful, we can sustain a healthful way of life, conserve our planetary resources, simplify our lives, and have a huge global impact for
generations to come. I create all of my work with this in mind. For these reasons my furniture and home furnishings are designed and built by me, one piece at a time, with sustainably harvested wood, to last for generations.

What inspires you to create?  What are your favorite materials or colors to work with?  Where is your studio/work area and what is it like?

What inspires me to create is innate. I have to be using my hands. I get creative inspiration everywhere, especially when I don’t expect it. I get ideas from the form of a shadow, the shape of an object, the curve of a letterform, or abstractions from a dream. My need for compartmentalizing and organization sparks ideas for new pieces. I specialize in creating pieces that help to organize a space, or to meet the needs of a particular situation. My mantra is a place for everything and everything in its place.

I work with wood because I love the feel, smell, and look of wood. I typically work with Tiger Maple and Sapele because these woods have such dynamic grain patterns, which glow and deepen when light hits them. Birch and Quartersawn White Oak are also woods that I like to explore. Sometimes I will add a layered stain or dye to the Quartersawn White Oak and Tiger Maple to exaggerate its dynamic characteristics. Mostly, it’s the natural color of the wood that captures my attention. I like to use a clear finish that accentuates the natural beauty and depth of the wood. When I choose wood for a
project, I spend a lot of time looking for something spectacular, a color, grain, or pattern that speaks to me. While I’m making a piece, I concentrate on laying out the design on the wood to make sure that I’m extracting the most exciting part of the board. This can make a difference in even the most simple pieces, bringing them from beautiful to extraordinary.

I have a workshop, and a design/office space in my house. My workshop is of modest size, and laid out to accommodate a work flow that maximizes the efficiency of the space. I love being in my workshop, it is a place that I have created just for me, it is a source of great pride for me and inspires me to achieve my best.

What do you do when not at work in your studio?

I enjoy being outside year round. In the winter, I enjoy skiing and hiking. In the warm weather I enjoy gardening, camping, hiking, and walking my dogs. I cook and bake, I’m always looking for new recipes and new flavor combinations. I love to watch movies, especially old black & white movies, film noir, sci-fi, and costume dramas.

What are the top 3 reasons someone shopping at Twist should stop by your table?  Will this your first time as a vendor at Twist?

Top 3 reasons to stop by my table:
1. Check out my portfolio – I have a lot to offer that you don’t see at first glance.
Talk to me about commissioning a piece of furniture or built-in project.
2. Buy something unique for your home.
3. I am almost as dynamic as my work.

Visit Sharon and 60+ vendors at Twist on May 6 + 7 at the Northampton Center for the Arts