After practicing architecture for more than a decade, Brazilian-born Bay Area resident Silvia Song was in need of something more hands-on. As she explains, “I was doing a lot of design work and mockups, and visiting vendors and fabricators, but I never got to make anything myself. I missed the act of doing.” Her solution? She purchased some hand tools and started building simple wooden shelves: “I didn’t need much more than a hammer and some lumber from Home Depot.”
That was her start. Then Song started thinking about trying her hand at ceramics, but instead took a five-day class to learn how to turn wooden vessels, and became a wood potter. Her bowls in particular have really taken off. “I like vessels,” she says, “the small opening means you canâ€™t see whatâ€™s going on inside, so it gets tricky and dangerous, but itâ€™s also challenging and satisfying.” When she recently posted some indigo-dyed pieces on Instagram (she has a devoted following, myself included), we had to learn more. California dwellers, stay tuned for her show, which runs August 15 to September 15 at Heath Ceramics, in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Above: A set of Unfinished Nesting Maple Bowls; $500. Song likes the fact that maple begins as a pale white and ambers over time.
Above: Song collaborated with natural-dye specialist Kristine Vejar, dipping hand-turned maple bowls in a traditional Japanese-style indigo vat.
Above: The indigo bowls will be available exclusively at home-furnishings shop March, in SF. For the record, they’re oiled and waxed; Song uses hers as a fruit bowl.
Above: Maple bowls. Song tells us, “Maple is one of the hardest and densest domestic woods, and to me it turns like butter; even if it’s bone dry, it turns well.”
Above: Claro Walnut Bowl; $230. Claro walnut grows only in Northern California and is not readily available. Song works with a city arborist who emails her photos of felled trees.
Above: A Butcher Block made from thick end-grain maple; $300. In addition to wood turning, Song is developing a new line of wood work. The cutting boards are inspired by old-fashioned farmhouse stand-alone butcher blocks.
Above: Song renovated her garage to create a workshop, but keeps needing more space: “I am slowly seeping into my husband’s man cave.” Keep up with her work at Silvia Song.
Have a look at March in our Shopper’s Diary. For more fine woodwork, see our post on 8 Design-Worthy Wooden Spoons. And if you want to see how wood is salvaged, see our post on Evan Shively, the Ultimate Arborist.
Don’t forget to vote for the finalists in our 2014 Considered Design Awards! You can vote now and every day until August 8. The winners will be announced August 9.