My evolution into furniture making began with graphic design and sign making. In 1988, I graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA in graphic design.
Primarily a self-taught woodworker, I began by building and hand-lettering wooden signs for local businesses on Nantucket Island. I moved on to carpentry, and then began making furniture. I earned my Master Furniture Maker certificate from the Hill Institute in Florence Massachusetts, where I learned traditional furniture making techniques such as hand-cutting mortise & tenon and dovetail joinery, veneering, and carving.
While completing my furniture studies, I worked at a family owned home design center. As lead designer I designed kitchens, baths and home offices, which honed my analytical and design skills. I have since executed many architectural projects and built-ins.
Today, I have a one-woman workshop in Northampton Massachusetts, where I design and handcraft fine furniture.
My furniture tells the story of my process; like the decisions that I make while designing, and the marks that I leave with my chisels. Richness and beauty in my work is achieved by accentuating the depth of the natural grain of the wood.
I am inspired by tradition. My aesthetic is informed by classic forms and styles of the Federal Period and the Arts & Crafts movement. My education and interest in typography infuses my work. The decorative elements of many of my pieces are inspired by letterforms.
I start a piece by sketching ideas, working out my design and its proportions. My visualization starts taking shape when I fine tune the proportions, creating full size drawings by hand. I often work with cardboard and scrap wood to flesh out the idea in the third dimension.
When I go to buy wood, an exciting transition occurs, my work shifts from idea to form. I spend hours searching for the right wood for my piece. I look for dynamic wood grains and tones. I mark each piece with its designation in my plan. As I work the wood into its final form in my workshop, I fine tune my design decisions. My aesthetic choices don’t stop until the piece is finished.
I use sustainably harvested wood in all of my work. It is important to support responsible forestry to ensure that woodworking has a viable future. A world without fine woodworking would be a dull one indeed. I take great pride carrying on the tradition of fine craftsmanship, working with my hands to create pieces that I hope will inspire others.
Many of the names that I use for my work are names of people and places of significance in my life. Some of my work is named to give clues to a deeper meaning.
I sign each piece with my hand-carved maker’s mark, on furniture pieces I include the last two numbers of the year in which it was completed.
“ID A Personal Profile.” (PDF) Hampshire Life. October 1, 2010
“HOMEmade.” (PDF) Hampshire Life. October 7, 2011
“Window Shopping.” (PDF) Preview Massachusetts. May 2011
“This Twist is a Crafty Place to Shop.” (PDF) Pioneer Valley Life The Republican. May 7, 2011
“Woodworking Excellence, 2015 Excellence Awards.” (PDF) Popular Woodworking Magazine. November 2015
“Sharon Mehrman, winner of 2015 Woodworking Excellence Award.” (SoundCloud) WHMP Radio Interview on the Bill Newman Show, October 5, 2015