Stephen James Zbornik
I never planned to be a chairmaker. My woodworking career started accidentally, in the woods. I moved away from my family farm when still a boy, and started traveling as a teenager. My travels led me to North Carolina in 2001, where I discovered the forest. I worked outside of Boone, logging with horses, and off bearing at a sawmill. We also built rough structures out of fresh sawn material. This foundational experience with the material shaped the way that I experience wood to this day. In the years that followed, I worked as a framer, cabinetmaker, trim carpenter, and millworker, always seeking work with tighter tolerances and a closer attention to detail. Following a brief stint at college studying philosophy and the humanities, I finally realized I am supposed to make things from wood. My journey led me to Brian´s shop in Kentucky, where I worked until we moved the shop to Asheville. In 2009 I returned to farm and do woodwork in Winnesheik County, Iowa. I set up shop here at Cloverleaf Farm and started designing and making my own post and rung chairs. I am excited to be collaborating now with Brian, while working in the home of my ancestors.
Post and rung chairs are the basis of my craft. I am enamored of their simple grace. The traditional ladder back chair is a chair reduced to its essence. There is nothing left but chair. When a chair is right, it is what it is supposed to be. Light, strong, visually pleasing, comfortable and long lasting. It is more important to me to do something old well, than it is to do something original. Making something worth owning is rare today, and it is an honor to be the maker. I strive to make the best chair that can be made, both ergonomically and aesthetically, one that will last a lifetime and longer. It is my pleasure to make objects that ground us in our place, and appeal to our sense of what is good in this world. Photos taken by Jessica Rilling