Tobias Dean, Furnituremaker
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Tobias Dean, Furnituremaker About Tobias Dean

My parents exposed me to beautiful things while I was growing up, and with this came an awareness of beauty, art, and tradition. I gradually became interested in the design process as applied to furniture. I discovered that modern carpentry includes only some woodworking, and I became fascinated with old houses and timber frame barns, and the level of craftsmanship involved in creating these structures. I haunted my parent's large basement where I had set up a kind of shop with an industrial lathe, radial arm saw, and table saw.

With the good example of my father, who was a believer in the importance of an education, I went back to school in my late thirties. I chose the Wendell Castle Workshop, a short-lived but dynamic two-year program the artist had started in the early eighties near Rochester, New York. There I studied traditional hand tool woodwork with Stephen Proctor, an English furnituremaker, and expanded my awareness of drawing, drafting, and design from Mr. Castle. His many years of experience designing and making furniture, along with the rest of the staff's knowledge, provided a rare opportunity to learn.

Graduating in 1987, I spent one more year working for a construction company in the field and shop, and I finally decided to go all the way and earn a Bachelor's degree. I chose the School for American Craftsmen at RIT. It wasn't easy being an older student there, and I already had a family with two small children. However, it proved to be a hectic but useful period of developing ideas and I took some great courses in literature and other media.

For many years I taught a woodworking class at the local adult education center and on occasion, I have taught individuals in my own shop. In 1994 I bought a farmhouse and barns with five acres, built in the 1840s, which I am restoring. My studio is in the largest barn on the property. In 2003 I was employed at a sizable local custom millwork shop, where I managed projects and became the draftsman, creating shop drawings on a computer. When that business closed in 2005, I returned full-time to my studio in the barn.

I love to collect things and I love to grow things. I am very proud of my two children, now grown.

Tobias Dean, Furnituremaker