Pasadena-based acclaimed woodworking artist Darin Beaman said that some part of him just wanted to save a piece of that tree and turn it into something useful. To have it live on.
And live on they do, for Beaman produces stunning one-of-a-kind vessels and objects worthy of being showcased in art galleries, all sourced from felled and removed trees.
Beaman is the owner of Former Studio, a 20-year-old initiative that is focused on objects that reflect the nature of people’s relationship with arboriculture – defined as the cultivation, management, and study of trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants.
Beaman exclusively uses felled trees or trees that have been cut or knocked down as his medium.
“A tree that took 100 years to grow can be gone in an hour or two. Some part of me just wanted to save a piece of that tree and turn it into something useful. To have it live on,” Beaman told Pasadena Now.
A 6th-generation woodworker, Beaman’s grandfather ran a tree nursery in Michigan. His father and five brothers were all woodworkers.
“At some point I made the connection (to woodworking). My first experience with a real woodworking shop was at ArtCenter College of Design where I attended undergraduate and graduate programs. That’s where I first began to see respect for craft as part of a larger creative perspective.”
It was no surprise when he decided to pursue woodworking after leaving his lucrative career in advertising.
“In 2018 I was completely burned out as a Creative Director. After 20 years of slogging it out for clients, constantly pushing for better and better work I’d had it. The lathe gave me a chance to very directly find creative satisfaction.”
‘Trees cool us off. They calm us down. They connect us. We have to work to keep them going’
Beaman started with wood carving using second-hand tools he could find then gradually putting together equipment and experience necessary for a full shop.
“There’s an exchange that happens in woodturning—and it’s not just between the steel and the wood. As the edge of the tool carves out the shape of the object, it feels like something essential is being exchanged between your life and the life of the tree—two paths that are converging at a moment in time.”
“The challenge in our modern world is to not take this transfer for granted. To not allow the craft to be commoditized. Because the essence of these objects can only come through when the act of transfer is as respected as the object itself—and this is the soul of craft.”
Beaman urged residents to continue protecting trees, as he noted that there has been a decline of trees in the city over the years.
“I see trees in decline all over the city. Just look for the green dots spray painted on the trees around town. Those trees are coming down, and a much smaller sapling will take its place.”
Speaking about the sense of awareness among people regarding the importance of preserving the city’s urban forest, Beaman said that the urban forest is invisible to most people.
“It is almost always the case that when I’m having a conversation with someone about a particular bowl or object, and they learn that the material was from a tree they might’ve walked past, something changes in the conversation.”
“When you can see the rings of the tree and the shrinking of those rings, drought and heat impact the tree, I like to think it causes people to think a little bit,” Beaman added.
“Trees cool us off. They calm us down. They connect us. We have to work to keep them going.”
Beaman will be displaying his craft and discuss his connection with the urban forest as well as the value of his chosen medium at Patagonia for an evening conversation about the True Value of Our Urban Forests on August 12 at 6 p.m.
For more information regarding the event, visit: https://onecolorado.com/event/True-Value-of-our-Urban-Forest/2145563319/
To view Beaman’s works, visit: https://www.shopformerstudio.com