From a distance, his circular wooden creations look like a radiating sun and his inverted compositions seem like stalactites hanging from above. However, on closer inspection, these turn out to be miniature cityscapes, comprising buildings of all sizes, kinds, and designs.
This furniture maker, who followed his passion for sculpting to become a woodworker, is inspired by cityscapes. And the limitless possibilities that an urban landscape offers are simply too tempting for him to resist. Little wonder he has devised ways of presenting the metros in wood in most diverse ways.
James McNabb evolved a unique style of woodworking that he describes as ‘sketching with a bandsaw’. Unlike an architect, who strictly adhere to dimensions, he simply cuts abstract shapes from repurposed and exotic woods. Some of his detailed creations ultimately become components of larger sculptures, such as wheels and tabletops.
McNabb, who grew up in New Jersey, was fascinated by New York skyscrapers as a kid. This iconic global city is what inspired him to recreate this world in wood. Today, he’s based in Philadelphia and uses a converted US Post Office as his workshop. It’s here that he thinks out and crafts his fascinating cityscapes. And the most surprising part is he uses only traditional woodworking techniques to create abstract architectural forms, representing urban landscapes and bustling metros.
In an email shared with Colossal, McNabb says, “I compare hyper-realistic painting to fine woodworking. Both are slow, tedious, detail-oriented processes that require great care and consideration through every stage of making. In contrast, I compare my style of rapid bandsaw mark-making to the fast-paced nature of spray can art. It’s my attempt at ‘urban woodworking’.”
Through his superb wooden metros, McNabb tries to highlight the transformations of cities and urban landscapes. His endeavor is to capture the uniqueness and beauty of the cities, as also over-development that afflicts it. His City Series, that he created along with his wife, Stephanie McNabb, showcases a woodworker’s journey from the suburbs to the city.
McNabb certainly knows how to use scrap wood most creatively to delight his fans and followers.