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Fresh Shop: CHIAOZZA

Sep 5, 2013

by CHIAOZZA handmade and vintage goods

Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a handful of months or are waiting for those first few sales introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!

We are Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza, and CHIAOZZA  is our collaborative studio based in Brooklyn, New York.  It is an extension of the interdisciplinary art practice that we have together. We see CHIAOZZA as a common ground for design experimentation where we can draw from many different disciplines and make work that exists in between design and sculpture, craft and design, painting and installation.


The catalyst for starting CHIAOZZA came from our A-Frames project. We were making one-off wall pieces experimenting with interlocking wooden joinery, geometric forms, and bright color combinations, and we noticed that we started getting requests to purchase these pieces. That’s when we decided to form a studio-within-studio with its own name, as a way to expand these ideas in a playful and focused way.


The A-Frames have evolved over the last year to have a visual language of their own, referencing geometric shapes like triangles, parallelograms, and semi-circles, as well as landforms, letter forms, and primitive language forms. We’ve recently started experimenting with squiggles, which has been a lot of fun.


The process of making the A-Frames varies from piece to piece. Typically, we dream up shapes that we’d like to try out and then figure out how to make them. We start with American-sourced wood, usually basswood or hardwoods, then shape and notch them using traditional light-weight Japanese hand saws. We make all the pieces by hand, in limited editions, at our studio in Bushwick. We prefer cutting the wood by hand because it’s a more harmonious and controlled way of working than using power tools.


The next step usually involves sanding the wood to get a smoother surface or to add edge details like rounded or angled corners. Curved pieces are created through a process called steam-bending, where we heat flat pieces in a steam box and then form them to wooden molds. When they cool, they hold their shapes and we’re able to work with them as curves or squiggles. We typically finish the pieces with a combination of wood stains and matte acrylic paints. Here we have a lot of room to play and are always seeking interesting and curious color and finish combinations.


We’ve recently started translating these techniques into the creation of other objects. One of our newest pieces is a birdhouse that we made for an exhibition at the Wharton Esherick Museum in Paoli, Pennsylvania. This fall we’ll also be involved with a new program called Brooklyn Community-Supported Art and Design (CSA+D), where we will be making 50 small and unique A-Frame sculptures for CSA+D shareholders.


We’ve been increasingly interested in taking on larger scale commissions, creating unique installations by combining many different A-Frames. Once the shapes are placed next to one another, the relationship immediately changes and we are excited about building upon this dialogue of shapes. We’ve been tinkering with furniture ideas as well, but this aspect is still in the sketching stage. It is great fun to imagine these shapes as having different sculptural scales and functions — we’re excited about what’s to come.

 All photos courtesy of CHIAOZZA.

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