Tripp Carpenter

  • Woodworking

My nickname, Tripp, is for “triplet” because I am the third generation Arthur Espenet Carpenter. My father was well known in the woodworking world as an original designer and craftsman of outstanding sensuous furniture; his pieces have been shown and collected across the country.

One of the first things my father did was to put me on the lathe turning candleholders at age six. By committing me to the task of turning at such an early age, he didn’t realize he would create a kid with one overdeveloped arm, much the same as if I had been a pitcher on a little league team — and to this day my left arm does not resemble my right.

Woodturning was very important in my life. I must have turned a thousand bowls of various California woods up until I went to college in 1980. Sometimes I would become so excited about a particular piece that I couldn’t wait to leave school and get back in the shop. During this time I watched my father with his apprentices design and create piece after piece — these observations expanded my awareness of woodworking methods.
I left Bolinas to attend college in Santa Barbara where I studied geology, archeology, and Spanish, obtaining a degree in archeology. Having little money, I returned to my father’s shop for two years assisting him with his furniture projects. At this time I was given an opportunity to teach art at a public school in San Francisco. So I left the shop, got a teaching degree from SF State and continued to teach full time for eight years — some of the hardest years of my life.

In 2004, my father called one day to ask that I finish a table for him because his eyesight was failing. I agreed, and ever since I have taken over the shop, continuing with the trade. I have been in the shop in Bolinas for six years working full time. It has been a surprise to me that I have been able to actually make a living. But one thing I knew: I needed to use up all the black walnut my father had left drying out in the field. No matter what, I could not let that wood escape my hands.

Woodworking is what I know best. I am still awestruck by wood — it’s like gold to me. In my work, I strive for fluidity and playfulness, creating designs influenced by nature.

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