Whidbey’s biggest celebration of all things wooden is coming to the South End next weekend.
Woodpalooza, a show where woodworkers’ creations are on display, will be running Sept. 4-6 in Zech Hall at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. The exhibit runs 12-5 p.m. each day.
Items for sale range from the small, such as decorative bowls or carved birds, to the large, such as hall tables or music stands.
Gary Leake, the secretary for the Whidbey Island Woodworkers Guild and a Coupeville resident, said this year’s show will look a little different than those of years past. Woodworkers are bringing fewer items to allow for adequate social distancing in the venue. The opening night reception has also been cancelled this year.
“It’s just great fun to do this and it’s going to be a little different, but we’ll muddle through it,” Leake, who is a furniture maker, said.
Oak Harbor resident Karl Nielsen is also a furniture maker. Like Leake, Nielsen has been with Woodpalooza since its beginning 17 years ago.
“Like a lot of the craft world, it’s getting a little more gray-haired,” he said. “We have a few young people who are stepping up and providing their talents now.”
South Whidbey, he added is a “hotspot” for the event, with most of the show’s participating woodworkers and its attendees from that area. He acknowledged that getting Woodpalooza some more recognition from “the North End crowd” has been challenging, since many don’t know the show even exists.
“They’re very serious about being creative and putting together a high-grade show,” Nielsen said of the organizers for Woodpalooza.
When he was younger, he studied woodworking at schools on the East Coast. He is finishing a bench made out of logs for the upcoming show.
He described most of his furniture pieces as being both “curved” and “linear.”
Coupeville resident Jim Short uses a turning lathe to make bowls, both “functional and useless,” he joked — while some of his bowls can be a vessel for food, others are purely decorational.
He will be bringing his signature bowls with him to Woodpalooza.
Short first became hooked on making bowls after purchasing a lathe for $5 at a garage sale in Coupeville years ago.
“That was the beginning of my exploration,” he said. “Once you start turning, it’s very addictive and you can’t help yourself.”
Although he mainly works with the lathe now, he made a “foray” into carving in 2017 when he created an orca to accompany a whale bell on the Coupeville Wharf. Earlier in his life, as a carpenter, he made cabinets.
Like the other woodworkers on Whidbey, he finds his wood locally, from fruit wood to madrona to Garry oak.
“It’s all over,” he said. “Once you start looking for wood, it’s laying around all over the place.”