Chris Nelson

// Studio, Baustein Building, Holyoke, MA //

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Chris Nelson is from Colorado where he received his BFA in sculpture at Colorado State University. Now based in Greenfield, MA, Nelson focuses on site-specific/responsive installation art. These pieces address the interaction between person and space, both on a physical and emotional level. His work has been viewed throughout Western Massachusetts, various parts of the country, and in Japan. Nelson is just returning from a fifteen-month road trip exploring the American West. He is curious how this amazing experience will affect his work.

Find more of Chris’s work at


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After spending a year making two skin on frame kayaks for my wife and I, these vessels needed on last thing to be complete...paddles. It only seemed fitting to make my own paddles and I had already purchased the Western Red Cedar over a year ago when I first bought all my wood for the kayaks.

I started by ripping a 4”x4” in half and rough cutting the shape out with the band saw. Then the fun began by using a hand planer to slowly carve away the wood. Methodically, I’d work the piece in the round, being carful not to take away too much material. Each stroke added to the pile of curly queue shavings that accumulated at my feet. The smell of cedar filled my shop as I enjoyed the satisfaction of using hand tools for a change. After hours of work, I had two nice looking paddles which needed a little sanding and some Tung oil to finish them off.

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We’ve tried the paddles once and we’re pleased with how they perform. They’re light, well balanced, and feel good in the hands. I might have to make two more just for the fun of it.

Grace Clark