Despite the wild designs, chairs are very ergonomic
Industrial Artist Cindy Wynn forges sprockets, scrap metal and tractor parts into works of art. Comfortable chairs, science fiction-inspired tables and fashionable lamps involve days of labor before they emerge from her workshop on Stock Island. This past week I caught up with her in the workspace cluttered with antique machines and stacks of metal while we reclined in two recliners fashioned from former car seats.
Q: How did you begin in industrial art furniture?
A: I was in college in Ashville, North Carolina and I decided to take a semester off to learn how to build my own workshop for ceramics, which was my material of choice. I discovered I really liked working with metal. For my first metal project, I built a metal chair for my partner, who was studying fine furniture. It sparked something in me and I have been doing it ever since.
Q: How do you create your works?
A: I mostly use cold fabrications techniques — primarily welding, cutting, pounding and grinding. I try to let the materials speak. I don’t worry if somebody likes it or not.
Q: Where do you get the parts?
A: I collect parts from all over the country. I get farming equipment, industrial plates, big rings; anything that is a circle is very useful. I order parts from eBay. In fact, I have collected my whole career — anything that was metal and being thrown away I would drag in here. At the time I began steel had a negative value. I do not collect as much now, but still search for certain parts.
Q: Your steel chairs are known to be precise and comfortable, is there science behind them?
A: There is. It is all about angles. I usually have a two-inch drop from the front to the back. The great thing about metal is it is forgiving. I can adjust the seat and tack it by sitting there. I started out in physical therapy with my father and ergonomics makes sense to me.
Q: Where do your design ideas come from?
A: I like science fiction best of all and those films and books are inspirational. I like 18th century furniture, too, because a lot of great designs came from that era and I can extrapolate from them. I also go into Google and search different art forms and industrial art furniture. Sometimes I see my own work!
Wynn’s work in available at the Lucky Street Gallery. She also does woodwork and had a bench on display that she said was inspired by the band, the Butthole Surfers. She does commission pieces as well.