About Richard Rothbard
I began woodworking while I was an actor in New York City, crafting my version of rustic Colonial furniture and paneling for my apartment. In response to flyers posted backstage in Broadway theaters, I received small assignments. Mostly bookshelves and tables that I made in my living room. The pieces were crudely stylish made of stained pine with rough-hewn edges, fashioned with matte knife and disc sander. It was a dusty lifestyle.
The highlight of my career was playing the Boy in “The Fantasticks” for a number of years. Yet my seven years of pounding the pavement as an actor/singer (after earning a degree in finance and spending college summers working on Wall Street) did not really define my life’s work.
Then I had a brief encounter with a handmade dining table crafted from two free-form matched planks of walnut. The piece amazed me and struck a chord that ended my acting career forever. My “inner termite” was out of the closet. In 1967, I teamed up with a couple of creative woodworkers to make sculptured furniture and wood accessories in a small Manhattan workshop.
Impressions in wood 1967–1977
Later in 1967, I opened Impressions in Wood on Lexington Avenue and 65th Street. Those years were extraordinary. We made one of a kind furniture for some very interesting people, including a houseful of pieces for Paul Kantner and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. During this period, I began experimenting with band saw boxes and puzzling techniques. I would take old cedar limbs, crudely cut them apart and glue them back again into simple boxes, which sold for $30. In 1976, I met Joanna. The following year we closed Impressions in Wood and moved to the country.
The birth of Boxology
Our house in the farmlands of Sussex County, New Jersey, had a small outbuilding. In it, I set up a woodworking shop. We learned about craft fairs and supported ourselves exhibiting my work on weekends, It was a very interesting and creative time.
Experimenting with different techniques for making boxes, I found that using the band saw allowed me to create interesting shapes. My boxes sold so well that we could hardly keep up with production. Joanna handled all of the bookkeeping and helped at the fairs. We did the Florida winter circuit, won awards in art fairs everywhere, bought some property in Sugar Loaf, New York, where we built our new shop.
We soon began producing art and craft fairs and then opened the first American Craftsman Gallery in Greenwich Village in NYC. An American Craftsman now represents over 400 artists and our New Craft Museum Gallery has added a new dimension to our mission. Boxology has been an integral part of our galleries and it is my most important enterprise.
The name Boxology describes a process that allows me to explore the endless possibilities that wood working has to offer. I tell stories, take the most beautiful woods and turn them in to complex puzzle boxes and design display shelving and furniture that makes wood exciting in its simplest forms. There is no end to it... and as you will see there are endless beginnings, which I best describe as poetry, psychology and philosophy in wood.