I first met Ursula Dyrbye-Skovsted at one of Tom Bishop’s Chicago International Shows-maybe as many as 1o years ago. She was sharing a table with Barry Hipwell-a phenomenal British craftsman in wood, with whom she had collaborated on several projects. His furniture was amazing, but her birdcages…well, I had never seen anything quite so unique before. I made room in my budget to take one home with me. And a couple of years later, when she began making more elaborate and fanciful cages in delicate brass wire with whimsical brass trims and tiny brass feet that spoke of another time and place, the budget was forced to accommodate the purchase of a second birdcage. I just couldn’t resist!
She still makes those amazing bird cages, but she is not one for standing still for long. Tiny wooden accessories began to appear on Ursula’s table, exquisite picture frames with delicate inlaid flower designs in the style of the art deco period. Matching desk sets appeared, inlaid panels with scenes of forests and houses-all made of wood, the intricate and precise details mindboggling.
It wasn’t long before Ursula discovered Guild School and began teaching there-a variety of projects in keeping with the variety of skills she’d been demonstrating at shows, a wooden and brass birdcage from the Empire period, a chandelier made of metal flowers-the photo in the header above was taken in her class last year where she taught the construction of an acoustic guitar. You will definitely learn and stretch your skill set in Ursula’s classes, but oh, how rewarding it is to meet and exceed your own expectations.
This year Ursula will be guiding her students through the construction of a burl wood desk set with ivory, ebony and silver details. They will learn to shape burl wood, cut and apply ivory and ebony veneers, to forge the silver accents, apply all these tiny details, and polish the finished piece to a fine sheen.