Two Cicadas is the collaborative work, particularly focused on woodworking, of owners Jacqueline Klassen and Elizabeth Cox, residents of Sherman.
Klassen who earned a graduate degree in religion believes her Mennonite background encouraged skill development has meant that everything from shoe making to embroidery is of interest. Cox, who was born in Dallas, is a graduate of Austin College with an arts degree.
The name Two Cicadas came from their home, as the sometimes-dizzying sound of the insects in the trees surrounding them is intrinsic to a Sherman summer.
“We also chose it because of a story about the songs of periodical cicadas; that all cicadas born in a certain year emerge from the ground together and share a common song by which they recognize each other when they form chorus groups,” said Cox. “If a cicada emerges late or ahead of its group, its song will be unrecognizable by the chorus. Its voice unheard, it will be alone outside of the group.”
The story is a lonely one, and the pair like to think that maybe there are a few other odd cicadas out there and they found each other.
“Since we like to use outlier lumber, we thought a couple of outlier cicadas would be a good representative symbol,” said Cox.
They began their collaboration when they discovered that they shared values in the selection of material and design in their woodworking. In addition to using materials for repurposing into another object they seek out lumber with inconsistencies and peculiarities of character that often result in being pass over for woodworking production. Knots, streaks, and stains; wild non-conforming grain signifies the tenacity of the tree to grow despite sources of stress such as a harsh environment, scarcity of resources, even being inhabited by and consumed by other living things.
“Similar to the practices of other groups in craft, we value these characteristics for their striking beauty and visual interest as well as the narrative they represent, they become integral to the piece and are consciously emphasized rather than concealed or excluded. We appreciate and make use of regular, uniform-grained lumber and the tidy, calm effect it can lend a piece, but we also want to include a focus on the irregular things that happen as a tree grows and responds to the conditions of its environment. We are working with something that was a living body, and it has a unique story to tell,” said Klassen.
When the visual impact of the character of the wood can be so strong they tend to keep their designs straightforward and clean. Mid-century modern design elements often come through but they each find themselves drawing creative energies from many sources; architecture, religious structures and objects, even the concrete that forms bridges and overpasses.
“We are looking everywhere. The piece has to fit its function if its furniture or cabinetry, the environment where it will be housed must be considered,” said Klassen.
“But we are also responding a lot to the individual characteristics of the wood and sometimes a project is built around how to feature what is happening there,” said Cox.
The transition of working efficiently in their current small space while attempting to build an infrastructure that facilitates having more projects is their current challenge. However, challenge is not something they shy away from.
“I enjoy the challenge whether it was milling decades old warped boards and building a mid century modern cherry coffee table out of them or rescuing maple slabs from my father’s discard pile and making side tables or using old oak stair treads from a demolished house here in Sherman and designing, together with Cox, at the request of a client who wanted a sustainably sourced standing desk. There is something extremely satisfying about working with wood that either has not been subjected to the standardization and grading process or somehow creates an issue that requires thought. Working with a material that has retained some of its original character or different function forces one to work with what the wood demands and the experimentation required can yield exciting results,” said Klassen.
They both have specific projects they would like to work on with their own themes and focus.
“Ideally, when someone brings home a piece it will do more than serve its function well, and when they are using it they are also interacting with some ideas. We would like our work to make people feel less inclined to want to distinctly categorize things as craft or art,” adds Cox.
Two Cicadas Woodworking are open to commissions, discussing ideas and/or projects. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and can also be found on Instagram as two_cicadas.