WITH A BOX OF tree branches and a fanciful chair named Emily behind her, Elizabeth Shaw helped children try her tenon cutter last week at the Howard County Fair. Shaw, who represented Howard County Woodworkers Guild, was demonstrating how she makes her rustic furniture.
The Hickory Ridge resident is a newcomer to woodworking. Her work with wood started with a dream.
After studying art in college, Shaw worked in a hobby store at The Mall in Columbia.
One night she dreamed about a wooden folding screen, decorated with copper panels and handmade paper.
"It was very specific and very clear," she said. She woke up, sketched the design, and went back to sleep.
Shaw had never worked with wood before. She had no tools or expertise and, living in a condominium in Harper's Choice, she also had no space to work.
But she began trying to re-create the screen, working on all the parts except the wood.
Years passed. She had a baby, became a day care provider, then went back to work designing T-shirt decorations for sportswear companies. One company laid her off when it downsized. Her next employer moved to New York.
With her career faltering, Shaw re-evaluated her life and decided to follow her dream -- literally.
A friend told her about the wood shop at Florence Bain Senior Center used by Howard County Woodworkers Guild.
Shaw went there and, despite initially cool reactions from the predominantly male members, found not only the tools she needed, but also a wealth of expertise.
"I fell in love with the wood shop and with the process," she said. "Now I'm hooked."
Two years ago she joined the guild. "It has been the best experience," she said. "You couldn't ask for a nicer group of people anywhere. They love what they're doing. And they're more than happy to explain how they did a project."
Shaw is trying to establish her own woodworking business and focusing on what she describes as "rustic" furniture.
"I'm a great believer in recycling," she said. She scavenges tree branches from construction sites, neighbors' prunings and the county landfill.
She strips the bark off some branches, but leaves others in their natural state.
She also retains some of the curves of the original branches, although she said she "works very hard at trying to make my pieces not only functional, but comfortable."
She added, "Because I haven't been making this kind of furniture for a long time, each piece is a surprise."
Among Shaw's pieces are several children's chairs.
She strips the bark from the wood and spray paints the frames in bright colors.
Then she adds upholstered seats in a contrasting color or print.
Shaw names each chair for a child she has known.
After demonstrating her work at a festival last spring, Shaw received several orders from parents for chairs to be named after their children.
Eight of Shaw's pieces, including the wooden screen, will be included in an exhibit next month at Meredith Gallery in Baltimore.
Titled "Made in Maryland 98," the show will include art furniture by 10 regional artists.
The exhibit will open with a reception from 5 p.m. to 7: 30 p.m. Sept. 3 and continue through Oct. 31.
The gallery is at 805 N. Charles St.
Gallery information: 410-837-3575.
Anne Bradley of Pheasant Ridge was among several residents honored for volunteer service to the community during the River Hill birthday bash Sunday at the village pool. The event, which marked the village's seventh birthday, also included an ice cream social.
Bradley was the first chair of the village's Resident Architectural Committee, which was formed in 1993. She served in that capacity until April.
A community service award plaque was inscribed with her name and will be hung in the River Hill community center, which is expected to open next summer in River Hill Village Center. Ground will be broken for the building in November.
Volunteer appreciation awards were given to residents who served on the Resident Architectural Committee last year: Jim Chaisson, Tina Cohen, Steve Collen, Erica Conlon, Tim Dahle, Ali Haghani, Karen Kurzawa, Kathy Plumley, Mohammad Saleem and Rob Warthen.
Bradley and Steven Sass were recognized as the committee members charged with granting final approval for projects.
River Hill residents Kayle Simon, Kevin Wilson and Myra Dahle were honored for their service on the village board. The three retired from the board in April.
Watercolors on display
Running Brook artist Ann Schluederberg has departed from her traditional watercolor style in paintings being shown at the Artists' Gallery.
Her exhibit, titled "Air Born," opened Monday and will continue through Sept. 25 at the gallery, 10227 Wincopin Circle.
While vacationing in Florida last winter, Schluederberg returned NTC to one of her favorite spots to find it changed by flooding. In bayous normally covered with algae, she found "spectacular" scenes of dark water reflecting trees decorated with Spanish moss and pink flowers. Three paintings of these scenes are included in the show.
She also became intrigued by the complex structure of the moss and tried to capture it in a series of paintings using lines that resemble calligraphy. Examples of these works, which she considers experimental, are also in the show.
The exhibit also includes "Seasons of Change," expressionistic paintings by Maryland artist Elaine Weiner-Reed, and works by other member artists.
A free reception will be held at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 11 as part of the Howard County gallery tour, "Road to the Arts." Information: 410-740-8249.
Scouts to hold campfire
Cub Scout Packs 618 and 621, which meet at Clemens Crossing Elementary School, invite boys in grades one through five and their parents to a campfire at 7: 30 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Park.
The evening will give prospective Scouts an opportunity to learn about Scouting. Skits, songs, stories and a bonfire are planned.
The campfire will be held in the north area of the park, off Old Annapolis Road. Participants are advised to bring a blanket, mosquito repellent, and a flashlight.
The two packs will also hold a Back to School Night at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 in the Clemens Crossing Elementary School cafeteria. Information about Cub Scouts will be available and new Scouts will be able to register.
Information: Don Stout, 410-997-4002.
Pub Date: 8/26/98