Cnidarian Stool, Medusa Phase
, digital rendering, 2023

Scrappy Chair Challenge
June 15-25, 2023
6th Fl Galleries

This spring my proposal was chosen by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to construct a piece of furniture using recycled materials from past exhibitions. The “Scrappy Chair Challenge” winners will all fabricate a sculpture that may or may not be functional in relationship to overlapping ideas from the fields of art and furniture design. We have just under one month to turn a pile of scrapwood into our final piece. The works will be exhibited at SFMOMA during the closing two weeks of the exhibition “Conversation Pieces”. I’ll be documenting my progress below! 


I used Blender to render my design, which ended up playing a much larger role in the project than I anticipated. The digital model allowed me to figure out how a cylinder would look “stretched”, which is what would give the stool legs the look that they are somewhat liquid, moving through water, instead of just a bunch of cylinders cut at different angles.

the goods

Picking up two sheets plywood; some 2x4s, a couple short 4x4 chunks. I’ve fit worse on my Prius. Sunny morning and always love encountering a Susan O’Malley mural. Photo is taken May 15, I have to deliver this thing by June 10th, time to get on it!

crossgrain plywood

I’m thinking a mix of plywood grain types would create the most interesting surfaces for the legs. I set out to make the plywood grain cut through each segment at one of five different angles. Since the segments themselves are cut at five different angles as well, the result is 120 possibilities!

Glue Up

Time to start putting these dozens (hundreds?) of segments together. I’m using a small dowel between each to create some stability--some of the legs will be as long as 30” or so. There are six legs in total, and while three touch the ground, the other three twist and even rotate upward, so they will need a fair amount of internal strength.


Admittedly completely off the rails over here. After having so much fun creating my own plywood crossgrains, I thought I might try to throw some even more complicated iterations in for a higher level of detail. The results are stunning. I asked some folks online to help me name this product, and “Plywood Sushi” definitely stood out as the winning entry.


Sanding, hours and hours of sanding. Thankfully few repairs. Danish oil, two coats. Drilling out the mounts for six legs. Brass fasteners for each leg. And a final detail, small furniture sliders under each leg end. 

Final Product

At last here she is! Everything I dreamed and more. I was hoping for a stool that felt like it was on the verge of swimming away, tilting as far out as possible. In order to achieve that sense of movement, there is a counterbalance going on--if any one of the the free (not ground-touching) legs is removed, the piece tips over forward. It’s in perfect balance altogether. It was incredible watching this piece come together, and even more fun to see it at MOMA with more than forty works celebrating semi and non-functional design. I feel so grateful I got to participate. Now time for some rest :)

Other winning entries from the “Scrappy Chair Challenge” on display include works by:

Eddie Aye
Lauren DiCioccio
Sofia Galán
Yvonne Mouser