O.H. Harris' Curved Creations
A local cabinetmaker imbues creativity into his straight-edged designs
A closeup of “Escape Velocity” (walnut, fumed eucalyptus, holly-dyed veneers, shellac, varnish; 46”W 33”H 19.5”D), Harris' contribution to the New Hampshire Furniture Masters Main Event
Photo by Bill Truslow
People often say they can’t draw a straight line. In woodworking, straight is easy, but curves are complex problems. Cabinetmaker and furniture artist Owain Harris claims, “Curves are my thing.” Indeed, he has designed and built cabinets for the curvilinear interior of an Airstream trailer, and he loves the challenges of curved inlays for his casework, admitting, “There is not much room for error.”
Harris, of Barnstead, started as a framing carpenter in his 20s. He “fell in love with making things” and went on to apprentice with a New Hampshire furniture and cabinet maker. Now working in a cooperative workspace in Deerfield, he custom designs mid-century cabinets, Arts and Crafts and French Art Deco entry doors, classic mantels and curved window sashes.
Eighteenth-century furniture makers, whose work is now in museums, were also cabinet makers — the skills are virtually the same. Harris’ fine furniture pieces include elaborate casework with a modern touch using exotic and classic woods, while curves are seen in bowed fronts and whimsical holly wood inlays.
This year, Harris was invited to exhibit in the annual New Hampshire Furniture Masters Main Event, where all work is sold to the highest bidder at a closing auction. His piece for the auction is the sideboard shown here, which he explains as “firework display in wood” created by the tension of the formality of the case visually forcing the inlay through the top of the cabinet.
Harris shares his skills by teaching each year at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine, and is a member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. Contact him directly for commission work.
New Hampshire Furniture Masters Main Event
An exhibition of works from this year's event runs from September 21 to October 1 at 3S Artspace, 319 Vaughan St., Portsmouth, with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on September 21.
The Main Event, including live and silent auctions and a reception with the Masters, will take place on October 1 from 1 to 7 p.m. at 3S Artspace.
For more information, visit furnituremasters.org.