Mary Costa

My first woodworking class was in 1972 in California, my home state. It was unusual for its time in that it was specifically for women and laid the foundation for my skills. It was several decades and a busy federal career later before I had the floor space and time necessary to set up a shop capable of turning raw lumber into a finished product. I enjoy starting with an unplaned, scruffy 8- to 12-foot-long board that gives little hint of the color and grain within. Through the steps of sawing, planning, jointing and sanding, the full beauty and character of the wood is gradually revealed.

Over time I have come to focus on applying a combination of domestic and exotic hardwoods to make familiar household items such as cutting boards, bowls, trivets, candle holders and coasters. In addition, I design specialty items such as sushi plates and ikebana/ flower vessels. Most pieces feature, laminates, inlays and insets as my imagination and creativity direct. The exotic hardwoods – from Africa, Central and South America, and Africa – are more expensive than the domestic varieties, but I think they are worth it for the deep, rich colors and grain they bring to the work.

For products that come in contact with food, I use only food-safe glues and finishes.