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Woodpalooza: Whidbey flaunts fine furniture

Woodworker Robert Bennett prepares pieces for a cabinet. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Woodworker Robert Bennett prepares pieces for a cabinet.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

It’s not simply a showcase of pretty furniture. And it’s about the furthest thing away from an Ikea warehouse. The Whidbey Island Woodworkers Guild’s seventh annual “Woodpalooza” starts this weekend, and this year, the woodworkers have a mission.

“The reason we do ‘Woodpalooza’ is to promote not only that Whidbey Island has a number of great craftsmen but also to let the younger folks know that woodworking is a career option and kind of to show the difference between the mass-manufactured, throw away furniture that people think is the only option,” Guild secretary Gary Leake said.

Woodpalooza is an exhibit of pieces created by 17 Whidbey woodworkers. There will be a variety of items in the show including a carved Native American-style mask and paddle, a China hutch, bowls, benches, tables and chairs.

Each item is made from solid wood and is built to last for many generations.

Leake said the woodworkers really feel like they’re hitting their stride in the event’s seventh year.

“Each one gets bigger and better and raises the bar,” he said.

South Whidbey resident and woodworker Bruce Launer has participated in the event a few years and has been woodworking for about 40. He’ll be displaying a music stand and console table at the exhibition.

“My style is mostly intuitive,” Launer said, who was raised in a family of artists.

According to Launer, visiting the event is worthwhile due to the unusual pieces some of the artists are creating.

“People will see things they haven’t seen before,” he said.

Woodworker Robert Bennett has been at “Woodpalooza” every year. Bennett was a landscape photographer in Seattle before moving to Whidbey. His second career as a woodworker developed after serving as a cabinetmaker on commercial marine vessels and yachts.

“I like to build just about everything,” Bennett said. “Most of the wood I use is certified so it’s relatively ecologically sound.”

Bennett makes custom home and office furniture for clients and is currently working on a tall cabinet to showcase next week.

“Right now it’s about 70 percent done,” he said, “so hopefully it’ll make it there.”

About the wood

What: “Woodpalooza”

When: Special reception, 6 to 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3; exhibit, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 4 to 11; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 12

Where: Bayview Corner Open Door Community Gallery, 5603 S. Bayview Road, Langley.

Cost: Free admission.

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