Philip Bosen of Silver Spring, Md., is a computer software tester by day who is readily anticipating a retirement career as a full-time animistic furniture artisan. Animism is the belief in the existence of spirits, dragons, lizards and the like. A sole proprietor doing occasional commissions and gallery pieces, he finds furniture making an enjoyable way to fill his time.
“I started in the early ’90s making Shaker-style furniture to teach myself to build animistic forms for Western culture,” says Bosen. “I really wanted to do something unique.”
Bosen is inspired by traditional African furniture that “does not share our reverence for the clean line and restrained emotions; instead favoring expressive animistic forms. But instead of simply copying from African examples, I am inspired to invent my own — dragons and butterflies with attitude.”
Bosen adds that the key to a striking piece is the right color combination of natural woods, such as walnut and maple.
“Pretty butterflies and dragons, or lizards, are very conspicuous, so I like to use contrasting woods which are cut into strips, stacked and laminated. To get different patterns, the laminations are cut and stacked again. Turning laminated blanks is another way to reveal nice patterns.”
Bosen wants to develop a series of butterfly and dragon tables so he can show clients the many possible configurations. He is also hoping to find an enthusiastic gallery owner willing to exhibit his whimsical work in a venue that concentrates on functional art.