Tag Archives: Geneva Artist

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Patrick Kana

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the idea of making things with my hands. I started as a child in my father’s basement workshop making carefully assembled model boats and planes, and over the last 15 years continued to gravitate toward working with wood as my primary creative practice.

Patrick Kana working in his studio

Patrick Kana working in his studio

I grew up on the coastal eastern shore of Maryland as a son of two marine biologists, and these influences remain at the forefront of my experimental woodworking today. I am currently the studio technician and visiting faculty for the Art and Architecture Department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, and have my independent business and studio: Kana Studios.

Finished texture and form exploring biological specimens.

Finished texture and form exploring biological specimens.

My work ranges in appearance and context, from fine client-based commissioned furniture to sculptural and carved objects that are grounded in my curiosity of the natural world. All of my work is experimental on some degree, by testing and exploring what certain specimens of wood can provide, how form integrates with the material, and how surface texture and color can enhance the gesture of the piece.

Development of Geneva Chair, 2012.  Mock-up before final production.

Development of Geneva Chair, 2012. Mock-up before final production.

The collection of work currently on view at Main Street Arts is more about showing the spectrum of my work rather than honing in on one central theme. The Geneva Chairs were my first long-term design and research project in 2012 that yielded a user-friendly and intriguing product for the masses, while keeping the material use and construction process efficient in my workshop. These are designed to be made in multiples, which contrasts well to the inherently one-of-a-kind carved wall vessel, Nascent, a piece that is designed and made using one specific piece of wood.

Organic development of Nascent.  Arranging free-form parts until I am drawn to a pleasing composition.

Organic development of “Nascent”, arranging free-form parts until I am drawn to a pleasing composition.

"Nascent" by Patrick Kana

“Nascent” by Patrick Kana

As my work has progressed over the last 5 years, I have found more intrigue in curves and contours of surfaces, as seen in the reed-like curves on the back of my Palea Chair, where multiple laminated slats combine to generate a contoured, gestured, and most importantly comfortable back to the chair.

Sketch developments of Palea Chair.

Sketch developments of Palea Chair.

Sketch refinement of Palea Chair.

Sketch refinement of Palea Chair.

Mock-up development of Palea Chair.

Mock-up development of Palea Chair.

"Palea Chair" by Patrick Kana

“Palea Chair” by Patrick Kana

My outlook on making is one that is central to understanding material. I want to learn the deep characteristics of wood—it is a seductive material in its natural state, tempting to simply sand and leave smooth, but I challenge myself to look at the raw material with a curiosity of what is within, or what it wants to become. I believe that through a range of working methods, we gain a more thorough understanding of medium, and in return we become stronger designers and artists.


Patrick Kana is one of eight gallery artists represented by Main Street Arts. He is featured in the exhibition CULTIVATE which runs April 7 through May 18, 2018. More information about Patrick and his work can be found on our website. View more pieces by Patrick Kana on the gallery’s Artsy page.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Patrick Kana: The Rumson Low Table

I have had the pleasure of exhibiting my work at Main Street Arts for almost two years now, and I jumped at the opportunity to participate in this collaborative show.  Ceramic artist Peter Pincus and I have been looking forward to an chance to collaborate for some time now and this exhibition is a great fit.

The table I designed for this show is a fusion of new energy and expertise with a product I had made three years prior: The Rumson Table.  The Rumson Table was designed as a simple and elegant occasional table, with crisp hand-shaped details.  I chose Mahogany for the stand and Zebrawood for the top to bring a warmth and color contrast not typically seen in contemporary furniture.  While I enjoy the color tones and overall form, my goal was to create a companion coffee table with a lower, more gestural stance and refined proportions.  The original Rumson Table stands 30″ tall while the new Rumson Low Table stands 15″ tall and 36″ across.

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I formally started my career as a furniture maker in 2007, training as an apprentice for master furniture maker and luthier Peter Dudley.  One apprenticeship led to another, and after receiving my degree in Architectural Studies and Studio Art from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, I continued to receive my MFA in Furniture Design from the prestigious School for American Crafts at RIT.  These experiences have cemented traditional craft execution in my practice alongside a contemporary design process.  Currently, my work is often inspired by botanical and marine biological forms, though there are times when the utility of an object takes precedence.  The Rumson Low table was a chance for me to refine the process by which I make this table.

While I often prioritize natural forms,  I am very driven by the selection of my material.  The majority of the wood I use is either milled from local logs, or sourced as reject material from lumber companies and sawyers.  In the case of the Zebrawood for the Rumson Low Table I was fortunate to obtain a sun-beaten pallet of African hardwoods that were destined for the dumpster. As I often discover, just beneath the grey weathered surface is warm color, texture, and most importantly, potential.

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I begin by selecting boards for matching grain patterns for the table top, trying to balance uniformity, contrast, energy and visual rest in the wood grain.  I step mill the planks very carefully to guarantee stability over the lifetime of the piece, and lastly, edge joint each seam with a hand plane for a flawless glue-joint.  Simultaneously, I begin making patterns and templates for the base components, to not only ensure that each component becomes an exact match, but to also build upon my inventory of “visual vocabulary” from which to pull inspiration later on.

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As you can see, I saw out the components for the base, and then cut the joinery.  Typically, joinery is cut first, then components cut out, but in my experience, I can attain more components per plank and waste very little wood in the process.  Although it’s slightly more labor intensive in the joinery-stages, it’s well worth it in my process.

At this point in the process, the components are still “blocky” to me.  I find my greatest enjoyment in the stages to come–laying out guidelines for the shaping process, and giving life to these components.  I add tapers, bevels, and progressing curves to the outer surfaces of each component, which not only adds dimension and depth, but gives them a vibrancy when light reflects off of the multiple surfaces.  My go-to tools for this process are spokeshaves, and Japanese rasps.  Some tools leave polished surfaces ready for finish, others leave behind a surface in need of careful sanding.

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I pre-sand all components prior to assembly.  This makes for easy work refining details on smaller components rather than sanding details on a completely assembled, unwieldy piece. Assembly for a base like this is not as easy as it may seem. Precise clamping pads are made for each corner to guarantee perfect pressure on each joint, and yes, it requires a lot of clamps! When it assembles smoothly and nothing shifts during the process, you know you’ve done your job well.

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Final touches are easily done at this point–cleaning up any glue, sanding any transitions, and my favorite, giving each sharp corner and edge a simple chamfer to make the piece soft to the touch.  Lastly, I finish all my work with a hand-rubbed oil varnish blend which not only allows the richness of these woods to pop, but also offers great protection for a utilitarian piece.

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The finished piece retains crisp lines and curves, while having an updated and more gestural stance.  These details, plus the bulbous square top relate nicely to Peter Pincus’ porcelain urns.  While slightly drastic, I am very happy with the color contrast between our work. I believe it brings out different qualities in the work that may not have been evident without the other.

I currently live and work in Geneva, NY  where I create work on commission and speculation for clients around the country.  I am also the Studio Technician and teach as Adjunct Faculty for Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  I welcome visitors to my 4000 square foot furniture studio, where I have available space for fellow artists and woodworkers, along with a suite of fully restored 1940′s vintage woodworking equipment.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Patrick Kana’s furniture in our current exhibition “Setting the Table” (runs through November 25th). You can see more of Patrick’s work online at www.patrickkana.com or follow him on Instagram @pk_designermaker. You can contact Patrick with questions, comments, and orders at patrick@patrickkana.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by furniture maker Chara Dow.