Conversations in Craft Spotlight: Eli Cleveland
Eli Cleveland CF ’09: “Mabel’s Swing,” cherry
Paired with Corner cupboard, ca. 1680, from the collection at Mission House
Even before Eli chose to work with the corner cupboard, his colleagues all bet he would pick the piece given its creative turnings and style. Sure enough, they were correct. Eli didn’t want to craft an object that “would be set in time,” so he turned to the story of Mabel Choate, the woman who most recently owned this object, to draw inspiration. He learned that Mabel’s mother wore a ring bearing the inscription “wedded to art” and that Mabel herself was a confident, eclectic connoisseur of decorative arts as well as gardens. “People always forget about outdoor furniture,” Eli noted, and thought that a garden swing would pay perfect homage to Mabel’s duel passions and legacy.
“People always forget about outdoor furniture,” Eli noted, and thought that a garden swing would pay perfect homage to Mabel Choate’s duel passions and legacy.
His design plays with positive and negative space, and the repeating tulip pattern found in both. Beyond design, the connection to Choate is in wholeheartedly pursuing his interests. When asked about his calling to this field, Eli remembered rushing home from his college classes to an apartment “filled with sawdust” so he could continue his woodworking projects. His passionate hobby is now his profession.
Since graduating from the NBSS in 2009, Eli has been working as a custom furniture maker in the Greater Boston Area. For five years, he worked on the PBS series Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac. Eli is an instructor the summer three-month furniture intensive course at NBSS, and also spends his time creating custom furniture for clients. See Eli’s work here.
Corner cupboard, ca. 1680 (left), “Mabel’s Swing” (right)