Biography of Eben Blaney
The son of a midcoast Maine wooden boat builder, Eben Blaney began working professionally in custom wood shops over 30 years ago–at first simply as a familiar means to fund other creative endeavors as well as to help fund a college education.
He pieced together a BA focusing on creative writing, art and music while attending schools in New York (Hofstra U), Seattle (North Seattle Community College) and back at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, where he continued with graduate work in New England and American Studies.
All this time Blaney supported himself by working in cabinet shops on both the west and east coasts where he accumulated experience and learned from many talented designers and craftsmen.
For several years it was his love of music and guitar playing that occupied his main creative focus, but a job in a small custom furniture shop introduced Blaney to a more artistic approach to designing and building objects which he quickly embraced.
By the late 90’s woodworking and furniture design in particular won out over serious musical ambitions and academic pursuits thus becoming Blaney’s full-time focus. He started his own business in Portland –Eben Blaney Fine Furniture –and two years later, in 2002, designed and built his present shop up the coast in Edgecomb.
Since then Blaney has dedicated himself to creating pieces expressive of his evolving artistic vision. His growing portfolio of original designs reflects his continual experimentation with new forms combined with the widely varied custom projects he regularly executes for clients. Influences to his work are wide-ranging, with roots tracing back to elements of Japanese, Shaker and mid-century Scandinavian designs. Blaney also credits several notable craftsmen and designers he has worked with for helping to shape his work. He adds to that: the exposure as a youth to African art and artifacts that his grandfather brought back from teaching in Kenya and the influential shapes and structures of the wooden boats he watched being built by his father.
Blaney has taught at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship (CFC) in Rockport, ME where he was awarded “Best New Maker” in the School’s Maine Wood 2012 Biannual exhibition and competition with his Wedge table. In the spring of 2013 Blaney’s bench Parenthetical was chosen by the Farnsworth Museum as one of two new designs purchased by the museum in the “Designing Benches” show and competition also held at the school’s Messler Gallery. Blaney’s piece Cirrus2 received “best in furniture” in the CFC’s Maine Wood 2014 exhibition and his Cormorant table was awarded for “best in furniture” and “outstanding craftsmanship” at the Maine Wood 2016 exhibition.
A variety of Blaney’s furniture currently can be seen and purchased at the showroom he maintains just upstairs from his woodworking studio in Edgecomb, Maine. He also exhibits, from time to time, at select fine craft shows which have included the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show (2014, 2016- 2018) and the Smithsonian Craft Show (2015, 2018 & 2019).