Woodenheart - Wood creations by Mike Laine


       Michael Laine has been involved in the world of fine woodworking for over 30 years. Running his business, Wooden Heart, since 1978, his career spans ten years as a studio furniture maker, followed by over two decades of residential building. The influences that have shaped his design aesthetic and building techniques include traditional Japanese joinery and building techniques, the Arts and Crafts Movement, and Western timber-framing traditions.

       His focus on traditional Japanese building styles began in 1976, when he met Makoto Imai-san, a master carpenter from Japan who has become one of the preeminent builders of Japanese style residences on the West Coast. Imai-san and Lenny Brackett, also a celebrated builder in the Japanese tradition on the West Coast, introduced Mike to the world of traditional Japanese tools and construction techniques, and Michael’s furniture and architectural work is strongly influenced by those tools and techniques. Some of the characteristics that distinguish this kind of work are a deep respect for wood, a need to use the material wisely to create durable, long lasting products, interesting construction techniques that add sophistication and beauty, and a never ending education about the aesthetics of wood and how to use it harmoniously.

Michael Laine’s current work focuses on entryways, gates, and structures that define transition spaces. The aesthetic, structural and emotional challenges raised by these types of structures are commonly overlooked in modern building. Mostly they are orphan projects, but these architectural demands are a central focus of Mike’s work. Transition structures are used to influence our consciousness and awareness as we move through an environment by physically preparing us for a change in the environment. By concentrating on the feeling and experience of moving from one kind of area to another, one can imagine a structure that prepares us for that transition. An entryway separating your property from the street will have its own distinct character. A formal gate as the entrance to your garden will be different than a structure that separates the distinct areas of your garden, and different than the gate to the tool shed.

Michael Laine’s community service includes over two decades of work for the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, located near Carmel Valley, CA.

Teaching, Seminars and Professional Associations:

- Past President, Bay Area Woodworkers Association

- Instructor, Japanese Woodworking Tools, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass, Colorado 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998

- Guest Lecturer at the California College of Arts and Craft

- Member, Timber Framer’s Guild

- Demo/workshop, “ Kanna: Making and Tuning the Japanese Plane” 2003 Timber Framer’s Guild Western Conference

- Demo/workshop, “Introduction to Japanese tools” 2005 Timber Framer’s Guild Western Conference

- Project Leader, Bainbridge Island Japanese Internment Memorial Project, 2006

- Kezurokai (an organization of carpenters obsessed with Japanese hand planes)

Michael Laine has shown his furniture at galleries throughout California, including:

- Bill Zimmer Gallery, Mendocino

- Gallery of Fine Woodworking, Sausalito

- Highlights Gallery, Mendocino, CA