Committed to the Craft
Alan Rosen . . . . A Northwest Artist Making His Mark on History

Traveling the short ferry ride to Washington State's Lummi Island one can easily see the immediate draw this idyllic lifestyle has on all who visit its shores. The lush beauty of the evergreen forests, the continuous lullaby of gently lapping waves and the obvious lack of congestion and commercialization all add to the island's magical calling. Tourists have no need to flock here since the island offers no public parks or shopping malls. But as you get off the ferry and take one look around, it's indeed no wonder that among this quiet community's 650 residents resides one of the Northwest's Finest wood craftsman and designers of wood furniture - Alan Rosen.

The artist and his surroundings evoke the feeling that both are indeed fulfilling their predetermined destinies. Both will play their part in history; one in the contest of the natural world and the other for his impact on the age-old craft that provides his livelihood. "My work is a culmination of the experiences and techniques of countless woodworkers before me. It is this information that I draw upon and ultimately strive to perfect." Immediately after walking through Rosen's shop door and seeing the exquisite sets of half finished dining room chairs one can begin to understand just how deep his breadth of knowledge truly is and feel the amount of passion he pours into everything he creates.

Designing and creating original furniture is something Alan has successfully pursued since 1972. Every step in the process of transforming wood from a raw element into a beautiful and functional piece of furniture is held to Rosen's stringent standards. Nothing is left to chance and details are painstakingly embraced at every opportunity. "Quality is the most important element of my work. The pieces I create should not only be beautiful today but stand the test of time and provide the same enjoyment for future generations." This goal is evident from the extreme care he takes in picking out the finest woods available to the superb level of craftsmanship seen in the joinery of all his furniture. Even the grain of the wood is matched to highlight its beauty and then ever so gently brought to the forefront. Possibly the element that allows a person to distinguish a Rosen original from those of other craftspeople is the feel of running your hand over the gently sweeping curves and lines of a piece that is finished like no other.

For Alan, becoming a premier woodcrafter evolved with the help of two instrumental people. Both were woodworkers by trade, both provided him the opportunity to learn, and both conveyed the knowledge he needed. However, each one offered him experiences uniquely different. As an apprentice while working for George Kaplan, Rosen learned primarily by observing and then imitating what he saw. Dismantling, repairing and reassembling 18th and 19th century antiques provided Alan insight as to how, and more importantly, why pieces failed. Rosen continues to draw upon this knowledge today as he creates and constructs his own original designs.

The other person to significantly impact Rosen during his formative years was Al Engels. Engels was a master woodcrafter in his own right, and his gentle style of teaching impacted Rosen from day one. Working side by side with Engels, Rosen realized the historical significance of the trade he had embraced as his own, and aspired to retain the valuable information Engels freely showered upon him. Engels' influence on Rosen reached beyond the job itself, and Alan developed a life-long friendship built on admiration and respect. Even today, Alan is reminded of the role Engels played in his own success. "The way my shop is designed and the way I run my business is patterned directly after how Al ran his. He was the one who ultimately provided me with the tools I needed to succeed."

These experiences, in combination with Rosen's own personal discoveries provide him the luxury of continually formulating and creating original pieces. A majority of his business comes from repeat clients and clients that pass his name on to other interested buyers. Occasionally people bring in pictures that may act as a springboard for a design, but most often Alan works directly with each person to create something truly reflective of their own style and taste. "People come to me with an idea of what they want functionally, and I create something individually suited to their environment." Sometimes this means choosing a wood that matches a client's current dιcor, a detail never overlooked and often highlighted with Alan's variety of wood choices. The other significant portion of Alan's work comes directly from the galleries that showcase his work.

To Alan, woodworking is not only his livelihood it is a profession that carries with it the responsibility of securing its existence. It is a profession Rosen eagerly welcomes at the beginning of every day and one that provides him with the challenges he believes fosters personal growth. Those who own a piece of Alan's work, or have admired it from afar, can easily see just how seriously he takes the job of securing this valuable resource as a functional form of art that one day may cease to exist.

Alan lives with his wife Lindy and daughter Shoshana. He is an avid skier spending 60 to 70 days a year skiing and ski mountaineering. Rosen is also an Avalanche Rescue Trainer at nearby Mount Baker and has a strong interest in snow science.

Designer & Craftsman of Fine Furniture
3740 Legoe Bay Rd.
• Lummi Island, WA 98262
Phone: 360 758-7452
• e-mail: arfurniture at cybermesa dot com
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