Aspen Golann’s Elegant Brooms and Brushes Take a Playful Approach to Woodworking



Craft
Design

#Aspen Golann
#wood

June 13, 2024

Grace Ebert

a hand reaching out to hold a broom with five brushes all connected

“Group Work.” Photo by Kate Benson. All images © Aspen Golann, shared with permission

For Aspen Golann, determining the function of an object is the perfect creative constraint for beginning a project. Working almost entirely by hand in her New Hampshire studio, she carves and sands wooden furniture, spoons, candlesticks, and other goods with a playful twist.

“Group Work,” for example, contains a single handle that forks into five heads, while even more minimal designs like the “Double Loop Brush” elegantly stacks two perfectly round spheres atop one another. “I find that function often suggests a starting point—like a place to put the hand, a type of anticipated movement, or an expected lifespan of the object (heirloom vs. disposable),” the artist tells Colossal.

Trained in the traditional woodworking techniques that dominated British and American life from the 17th to 19th century, Golann is clued into the historical implications of colonial-style furniture and design. As she was learning, she “kept wondering if their beauty could be disassociated from the racism, classism, and misogyny of that time? The answer for me is no,” she notes. “I think that all objects and aesthetics are products of the culture that made them.”

Rather than abandon the visual language of this era altogether, Golann decided to skew the tradition into more lively, lighthearted objects. Techniques like inlays and laminations appear in small works designed for domestic labors, whether cleaning and homemaking or growing and gathering corn tassels to create a broom head. “I think (it) humorously conflates the high status and masculine associations of fine furniture with these small domestic objects most often used by women,” she shares. 

In addition to her personal practice, Golann also runs the nonprofit The Chairmaker’s Toolbox, which offers free training and supplies to aspiring woodworkers and a program to support innovative toolmakers. “It has been the most intense and life-giving project I have ever been part of,” the artist says. 

She currently teaches in the furniture department at Rhode Island School of Design and often offers workshops and classes. Follow her work on Instagram.

 

“Double Loop Brush.” Photo by Loam Marketing

a wooden handled brush with a thin black grid and pockets in the center

“Woven Brush.” Photo by Loam Marketing

a stack of three black striped wooden brushes with a black brush on a gridded piece of wood

“Striped Brushes.” Photo by Loam Marketing

a wooden handled brush shaped like an s with two different brush parts

“Maple S Brush.” Photo by Loam Marketing

a small brush with a curvy wood handle with pink ends

“Drafting Brush.” Photo by Loam Marketing

the artist carving a wooden handle at a table in a woodshop with tools on the wall behind her

The artist in her studio. Photo by Loam Marketing

a pile of small hand-held brushes made with a variety of woods on a wooden surface with holes and wood shavings

“Simple Bench Brush.” Photo by Loam Marketing

#Aspen Golann
#wood

 

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