After graduating from the Philadelphia College of Art, Stewart Paul opened his own woodshop. After 17 years of woodworking, he found it difficult to make a living. So rather than compromise on his work, Paul quit his woodworking in 1990 and started doing home improvements.
“I felt better in doing home improvements rather than compromising the woodworking. I was going to do a kind of woodworking I didn’t like.”
What Paul didn’t want to do is produce the same type of item over and over again just to make money. “I wanted to do one of a kind pieces or limited production.”
Eventually, he started thinking about retiring from home improvement. Originally, Paul thought he would work in the arts in some capacity, “but I liked the physical activity of woodworking.”
After buying a home in Milford, Delaware, Paul converted his garage into a wood shop and got to work. His pieces are very organic, as you can see in the photo slideshow below. Sweeping lines, curves and the blending of the elements almost seem like they were grown not cut and carved with tools.
Paul spends a lot of time now on each piece, more “than anything I would have done in the 70s or 80s.” As an example you will see pictures below of the fish table Stewart has been working on for months. Just the little fins that form the legs of the table took Stewart eight hours each to make.
“Every piece I do is very time consuming. There’s a lot of hand work, there’s a lot of shaping.” In the end it’s this kind of work that Paul wanted to do, it’s what he likes to do. “It’s really a love of wood, what you can do with it.”
One of the reasons Paul spends so much time on each piece is because to him time is running out. “I’m 66, the best part of my life is 20 years ago or 30 years ago, so how much time do I have left where I can really do this.” He works to get everything he can out of a piece of wood, even if its means taking longer and longer for each one.
But he loves it. “I get up in the morning, I take a walk and I try and eat a quick breakfast and I can’t wait to come down here to work,” Paul said.
He loves the activity of taking a piece of raw lumber and working it and shaping it an turning it into something else that then “becomes part of something bigger.”
For Stewart Paul, things just worked out. “This is heaven to me I consider myself very fortunate.”