Creating chairs that rock
Artist's sculpted works win national awards, will be on display in Durango
You won't find your grandmother's rocking chair among the sculpted bronze, bamboo and zebra wood chairs in Kevin DesPlanques' collection. But you will find a comfortable seat.
"I get the ergonomics absolutely perfect," DesPlanques said.
DesPlanques, who lives between Mancos and Dolores, has spent the past four years refining his craft and expanding his designs from rocking chairs to include benches, stools and tables.
He has since been accepted into some of the most respected art shows across the country and won multiple awards, including third place overall at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival in Florida, one of the top art shows in the country.
The art show director, Katrina Delgado, said that DesPlanques' work sets the standard for the caliber of work that will be admitted into the show this year.
DesPlanques uses a technique called "stack lamination." He starts a project by gluing together a rough block, then he shapes it using grinders.
"It's sculpting more than woodworking," DesPlanques said.
He learned the technique 14 years ago from his friend James Cole, a former Mancos resident. He saw infinite possibilities for designing new pieces at the time.
"When I saw the process, a light just came on in my head," he said.
He seriously started pursuing his art full-time after a divorce that made him realize he should chase his dreams. Previously, he taught industrial arts at Dolores High School and San Juan Basin Technical College. When he first started he struggled getting into art shows, but now a full schedule of shows keeps him busy traveling across the country.
"I've gotten pretty good at bringing out pretty bold and defined lines on my chairs," he said.
He has also branched out into new materials.
About two years ago, he started using bamboo for some furniture because it is a sustainable product. As a member of the grass family, it grows much faster than wood.
He also recently completed what he believes is the only rocking chair in the country made out of bronze. He started experimenting with bronze so his customers could leave the furniture outside.
Some of DesPlanques latest work will be on display at The Open Shutter Gallery in Durango at a free reception Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.