January 03, 2018
There is something magical about functional art - work that looks beautiful but also serves a purpose beyond the aesthetic.
If the piece is something you can use, and is something you interact with regularly, it becomes a part of your life in a much deeper way.
Dallas Gara makes furniture - but within that furniture he reveals art.
“Mostly I do fine woodworking, so anything that's got complicated joinery or anything that is made out of a high-quality wood is what I tend to go for,” explained Dallas.
“I like mostly building rocking chairs, but I'll build whatever I can. People ask me to build all sorts of interesting things. I seem to be a custom builder.”
You can tell looking at his rocking chair creations that they are a labour of love, more than just custom builds. They seem to be more for himself in the way they reflect his affinity for the craft.
“They're hard to build. I actually got into building them because I love chairs, I love sitting. I don't know why, but I've always had an affinity for sitting and a rocking chair is one of the hardest things to build, so I decided to start making them.”
“They have to be very precise. It has to fit the body well. Where your arms sit has to be comfortable, where your head sits has to be comfortable, and all the while, if you build a chair out of wood, in Calgary especially, it will warp.
“So, to actually get a seat that's flat and the legs coming off of it and then rockers that sit flat and rock flat is actually pretty hard. Because you're working in three dimensions, it has to be not only square, but also flat, and then true.
“There's a lot of dimensions to it. So to actually get one that rocks really nicely and feels really good and also looks pretty is tough.”
By day, Dallas works as a physicist. He has only really been building as a woodworker in his down time for the past 3 years.
After taking a course in how to make rocking chairs, he was hooked.
“I was building just furniture for my house and then I wanted to take it to the next level and I wanted to take a course, and I was like ‘I don't know what to really take.’ So I took a course on how to build a rocking chair.
“I went out to see this fellow in Ontario and in 10 days we built one.
“I meant to go out there just to build one and take it home and just forget it, but I came home and I was like, ‘I need to build more’.
“I loved it so much, so I started building rocking chairs and then I got into more fine woodworking.
“People came over and they are like,
‘Oh, where did you get that?’
"And I say, ‘Well, I built it,’
"and they're like, ‘can I buy one?’
Each chair is unique and beautiful in its own right. They hold the presence of art pieces.
“That's what intrigued me is I just thought, ‘man, I want to make something that very few other people make.’ As it evolves, I'm starting to make ones that are more my design and I have a lot more influence on the end shape.
“So that was it. I just love them. I think they're pretty. When I walk into a store and see a rocker, I don't know, I always gravitate towards it.”
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