There’s no shortage of beautiful woodworking projects on the Internet, but there are very few that look like they might just walk off the table and attack the camera. Maker and art teacher Rebecca DeGroot has achieved this with her unique and whimsical creations that look more like an artist’s study of character design than traditional woodworking projects.
Her most recent collection of work resembles an animator’s workshop, made up of various types of insect and spider-like forms that give birth to incredible creatures that are both sleek and highly stylized. The shapes and finishes on most of these figures are so well done that they don’t look like any other woodturning project and in many instances, even seasoned makers are wondering how she created them.
I had the chance recently to talk with Rebecca about her amazing creations and the process that leads to their inception.
When I asked her what inspired these specific creations she in an almost nervous reply said, “I don’t like spiders, but I’m intrigued by the way they move and I’m constantly analyzing the mechanics of creatures.” I’m also influenced by my immediate surroundings and the patterns and shapes I see in the natural world.
One of the most notable constants about Rebecca’s work is the incredible quality and craftsmanship of the pieces. A quote from her website gives a glimpse into the process that makes this possible, “I move my work past acceptable to make it extraordinary.
“The process of that work often starts with a wooden block on the lathe and then ends with hours of sanding and finishing, others may sand to 180, but I’ll sand past 320.” And while a majority of Rebecca’s work is formed from wood, there’s also fair amount of her work that is mixed with various metals, which makes for some beautiful pairings of material.
This current series of figures is now part of Rebecca’s extensive and varied catalog of work, which speaks to her long standing love of creating things. During our conversation she told me that she grew up around tools and always seemed to be making and drawing, which helped to feed her wild imagination and cited two specific artists as her inspiration,
“The work of Michael Hosaluk has always fascinated me. It’s fun, playful, creative, and innovative. Another artist that someone showed me only after I started making these legs is Louise Bourgeois. Her work is powerful, frightening, and inspiring. Love both of these artists. There are many more that I follow and I’m sure that there are many MANY more who inspire me, but these two stand out as artists who I respect and admire, whether they influence my work or not“.
And when it comes to being an inspiration to others, Rebecca’s strongest advice is to “Do what you enjoy, don’t limit yourself based on what others like, or don’t like.” This advice is most directly heard by her students since, Rebecca manages to keep churning out these creations while also being a full-time art teacher, inspiring her own students to create. When I asked her what her students think about her creations and recent widespread exposure of her work their response was simple “it’s cool that you are famous.” I of course agree, but I have a feeling that the huge spotlight on her work is just beginning. In the meantime, you can follow her journey through her Instagram and Youtube channel.