Ima B. Leever: Getting Lacquered
Ima B. Leever attributes her approach
to wood to the home of her childhood: "All the walls were covered
in knotty pine. Bunch of 'eyes' staring at me. It creeped me out."
In retaliation, Ima's signature finish
for her pieces these days is seven coats of black lacquer. "Might
be shiny, but leastways it's not starin' at me," she said.
Ima is actually pursuing woodworking as
a second career, following approximately five and a half months as a
kindergarten teacher. "Flunked 'em all out of sandbox on day three
and put 'em to work – I hauled the whole class down to the high
school shop during recess and had 'em use the belt sanders to shape
the blocks into the pieces I needed to build with. Don't know why I got
any complaints fer teachin' 'em a useful skill."
Ima does admit that the school's
rainforest display during her tenure there acted as an inspiration.
"Did you get a load of how many trees they got down there? That's a
boatload of wood! See, I figure I could take one of those volunteer
vacations, haul along a machete, and keep tying logs onto my raft on
their big ole river [editor's note: that would be the Amazon]. Then
I'd just float 'em on up to my place, and I'd be set for wood for a
In the meantime, she has other sources
for her raw materials. "My neighbor over there keeps makin' some
mighty good donations to the cause – I just leave the paint on the
white pickets when I run 'em through the planer. Makes the yard look
a little bit snowy all year.
"Now, those ones on the other side
are goin' all fancy on me – looks like I'll be havin' some mahogany
planks purty soon, leastwise, soon as they go off somewheres and
leave the grill all out by its lonesome on that new deck.
Ima noted that she would, of course, be
applying her seven coats of black lacquer to the mahogany planks once
she had "acquired" them.
In response to a question about whether
wood stain would not leave distinctive grains more visible, Ima
responded, "Grain? Grain, schmain, I don't care about that. Only
reason I work with wood is 'cause it takes a pounding best of
anything I've ever tried. Can't hit a hammer onto glass and ceramics
and then call it art – cause I've tried. Nope; only thing people
will believe is an 'artist's statement' with them random dents in it
"What's my statement? Well, for one
thing, it ticks me off when they move my shows to a different time on
the TV. Makes me have to run my clicker finger too many times. So I
go out and do me some pounding."
This article originally appeared in the Woodworker's Journal eZine.
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