"Sabi" is a term taken from the Japanese tea ceremony to denote "rustic simplicity".
Natural products are used, and there's a sense of timelessness and decay,
an acceptance of the preliminary and mortal nature of existence, yet pointing to the Eternal embodied in even useless objects.
The Sabi Woods Difference
I began building chairs using a traditional method called "tenon and mortise". This style creates right angles in the chair design.
But trees don't have right angles. So after a few years, I began to have a different vision: to use branches in a way that would maintain the natural shape of the tree.
I developed a new technique of constructing chairs that connects the branches end to end and allows the tree to give its shape to the chair. I dubbed it the "pointed finger splice."
This unique method uses naturally forked branches to create the structure and design of the chair.
The tree is given a voice to shape the chair. The tree itself is shaped by its surroundings.
So the shape of the chair is a manifestation of the "spirit" or "feel" of the forest.
This chair was built with 17 different branches, some as small as six inches long, all joined together end to end.
It's pictured here in the Gambel Oak forest I harvested the wood from.
Note the way the chair reflects the tight, twisty curves of the trees.
"The genius of man may make various inventions, encompassing with various instruments one and the same end; but it will never discover a more beautiful, a more economical, or a more direct one than nature's, since in her inventions nothing is wanting and nothing is superfluous."
—Leonardo Da Vinci
A Workshop in the Forest
Each branch flows seamlessly to the next for an entirely organic design process.
To find pieces that will match, I camp out while I build to have more access to a variety of branches.
Living among the trees I'm building with adds another dimension to the trip, a personal connection to the forest.
Being mobile also frees me up to travel to camp and build anywhere there are trees.
So far I've been to Oregon, New Mexico, my home state of Colorado, and overseas to Tanzania, East Africa.
Meet the Artist
Vance is a sixth generation Coloradan who grew up traveling and camping throughout the South West. After graduating college with a degree in English, he moved to a mountain town and got a job at a rustic furniture shop, "just to pay the bills." But he fell in love with the work and soon went into business for himself, building rustic log furniture until 2001. After that, he worked in cabinet shops and eventually became a high-end interior carpenter, building everything from custom kitchens to staircases to built-in cabinets. He and his wife split their time between Denver and Tanzania, East Africa. He enjoys dancing, making music, and browsing used book stores.