As Labor Day Weekend approaches, woodworkers all across Whidbey are putting the finishing touches on their wooden creations.
The 19th annual Woodpalooza Exhibition takes place from noon to 5 p.m. on Sept. 2-4 in Zech Hall at Langley’s Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, commonly known as WICA. The three-day event is hosted by the Whidbey Island Woodworkers Guild, and 16 artists will have their pieces on display for sale.
Guild Secretary Gary Leake said Woodpalooza has come a long way since its first year, when nobody knew what they were going to make for the show.
“It kind of started as a joke,” he said of the unique name.
Much of the motivation in starting the yearly exhibition lay in attracting younger woodworkers. Nearly two decades later, most of the presenting artists are approaching their golden years.
“For whatever reason, maybe it’s because we’ve been doing this almost 20 years,” Leake said.
Entry to Woodpalooza is free of charge. Makers of furniture, boats, musical instruments and household items are among the woodworkers who will be present. Leake himself makes artsy furniture, which sometimes contains stained glass.
Oak Harbor resident Ty Balascio is the newest member of the Whidbey Island Woodworkers Guild and is looking forward to showing his pieces at his very first Woodpalooza.
Balascio started his own business, Coastal Woodworks, in 2021 after several years in the corporate world. He specializes in “tree to table” furnishings. Balascio uses only naturally felled timber, and works with arborists on the island. Most of the time, people approach him with their own supply of wood and a vision for a project. One of his first projects involved Siberian elm that was planted in 1850 in Coupeville.
“Many times it’s sentimental,” Balascio said. “It’s a tree from their property, and it’s fallen down, (in a) windstorm or something, and they want to see something special made out of it.”
South Whidbey resident Thomas Eller, a retired woodshop teacher, creates a wide range of items out of wood, from clocks to charcuterie boards to urns.
“I do a whole lot of segmented work,” he said. “You have to use your geometry skills.”
He uses walnut, maple and hickory, among other woods.
“I don’t stain anything,” he said. “I let the wood speak for itself.”
Other participating Woodpalooza artists include Angela Ramseyer, Bruce Launer, Bruce Schwager, Christy Schwager, Glen Pearson, Issac Leitz, Jim Short, Johannes Liebert, Karl Nielsen, Mike Scott, Pat McVay, Steve Ready and Wilson Binger.