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Creative Pagosa: Todd Condon

Photo courtesy Todd Condon Todd Condon has worked to fulfill his passion of fine woodworking by creating traditional heirloom quality furniture, and the Pagosan’s work has won awards at the People’s Choice Exhibition in Farmington, N.M., and at the San Diego County Fair Design in Wood competition.

Photo courtesy Todd Condon
Todd Condon has worked to fulfill his passion of fine woodworking by creating traditional heirloom quality furniture, and the Pagosan’s work has won awards at the People’s Choice Exhibition in Farmington, N.M., and at the San Diego County Fair Design in Wood competition.

The Pagosa Arts & Culture Project is building a web-based directory of all the creative people and businesses in the community. By creating this website, it will make these MAKERS easier to find in online search engines and help share the wealth of innovative and talented individuals that call our small town home.

This sort of database is called “cultural mapping” and is being done by communities around the country in order to realize and recognize the value of their creative assets.

The Pagosa Arts & Culture Project is establishing the groundwork for continued collaboration and cooperation and promotional efforts of the combined community. The goal of the project is to establish a solid foundation of cultural and creative individuals and businesses, to create a viable plan for promoting these assets and to promote the Pagosa area as a worthy place of residence for creative people, a productive place for creative business ventures and a desirable destination for arts tourism.

At present, the PACP is also planning an event for fall 2013. The event, the MAKERS Expo and Tour, is set for Oct. 12-13.

To register and be listed in the database, go to http://pagosaacp.org/Register.html.

In order to highlight the MAKERS in Pagosa, the PACP will profile its members, giving readers of The PREVIEW a sense of the depth and breadth of the creative community.

This week’s MAKER is Todd Condon.

Q: Tell us a little about who you are, where you were born, educated, your family, growing up and how you came to be doing your creative work?

TC: My name is Todd Condon. I was born and raised in San Diego, Calif. I’m married, and have three children — Becky, her husband Keith, two granddaughters Lorah and Macey, a grandson Tucker of Pagosa Springs, a son Michael, his wife Alex, a granddaughter Grace, and a daughter Diane of San Diego. I’m the 12th of 15 children born to my parents Barbara and Joseph Condon, of course, many of my siblings were adults and out of the house by the time I was born, and so I mostly saw them at family gatherings such as birthdays and holidays. With that large of a family to raise finances were always pretty tight, so we went on a lot of picnics in San Diego. I have probably been to every park and beach in San Diego.

I attended Catholic school up until eighth grade, and eventually graduated from Kearny High School. I got involved in woodworking when I started going to public school in the ninth grade. The shop teacher, Mr. Sylvester, picked up me and two other students for a summer project, and we built new tables for the school library. I continued taking woodworking classes throughout high school. Mr. Mosley, my mentor in high school shop, was a great teacher, and he also had me help him with projects on his own home. Later, as an adult, I found out that he had me help him to keep me out of trouble, and I thought he was just putting me to work.

I got married at the young age of 21, and had three kids by the time I was 24. The furniture trade was tough to make a living at so with the help of one of my brothers I got into the construction trade which I continued in for 25 years.

I moved my family to Pagosa Springs in 1995, but decided to move back to San Diego in the winter of 2001 when work became somewhat slow. After raising three great kids with my wonderful wife of 30 years Janice, I decided to go back to school to fulfill my passion of woodworking. I attended one year in the woodworking program at Palomar College in San Diego.

I became very interested in making American period furniture, so I then transferred to The Furniture Institute of Massachusetts where I had the opportunity to study under master furniture maker Phil Lowe. With Phil’s vast expertise in making American period furniture, and also seeing the collections in museums on the east coast, my passion for making that style of furniture grew.

We have always wanted to return to Pagosa Springs, especially because we wanted to be near our family here. So, after finishing at the institute, we moved back in September of 2012 where I continue my personal study in my workshop.

In April I received an honorable mention for a 17th century Pilgrim chest.

I entered the People’s Choice Exhibition in Farmington, N.M., and this month received first place for the same chest, third place for an 18th century chest of drawers, and an honorable mention for an 18th century Queen Anne side chair in the traditional category at the San Diego County Fair Design in Wood competition, which is the largest woodworking competition in the country. Every year at the fair, the Society of American Period Furniture Makers gives out an award, which I was honored to also receive.

Q: Describe the objects you make or the creative work you do.

TC: I make heirloom quality traditional furniture from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries including chests of drawers, chairs, tables, Pilgrim chests, small boxes, etc. I use both machine and hand tools. The majority of the work on my pieces is done at my self-made work bench with hand tools.

Q: What is your favorite tool or material used in making your work? Why?

TC: My favorite tool is my 1950 Stanley No. 4 bench plane. As I take shavings from a board of wood I feel that I’m part of the board as its taking shape. My favorite wood is by far walnut. Its color and grain patterns are exquisite.

Q: Do you have a regular routine or schedule?

TC: Although my kids are grown and out of the house, I still get up early every day, and go to my shop for eight to 10 hours, and have the time of my life doing what I love.

Q: What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

TC: The best advice I’ve ever gotten was, “No matter how old you are, or what ups and downs life brings, you should still pursue your passion.”

Q: When you’re not making art, what is your favorite thing to do in Pagosa Country?

TC: When I’m not in my shop I enjoy horse packing here in the high country, and spending time with our children and grandchildren.

Q: What are your goals for the coming year?

TC: I want to continue my personal study so that I can eventually teach others this wonderful craft.

Q: What is your dream project?

TC:  My dream project is to make a 19th century Bombe chest of drawers.

This story was posted on June 27, 2013.
  • Danelle K

    Amazing work by and amazing artist! You want a piece of furniture that is quality and build with passion Todd is your guy!