Greta de Parry is not your typical woodworker-welder. For one thing, she earns a small stipend while creating whatever she wants (“I could whittle little fox terriers all day,” she jokes) as the sole artist-in-residence at Lake Bluff’s Crab Tree Farm, a working farm that’s also a design incubator. For another, she’s a female (a Birmingham, Alabama, debutante, no less) in a male-dominated field.
But the biggest reason she is atypical is that her output—in addition to being precise and beautiful—bubbles with personality. Whether it’s an elegant rethinking of an Eames coffee table, a red-oak stump stool lacquered white on the outside but with a natural-wood top, or a chunky cutting board shaped like a slice of bread (made of wood scraps from bigger projects), each of de Parry’s pieces reveals much about the person behind it—a quirky, down-to-earth young woman who loves to share her ideas and influences. “I grew up in Ann Arbor with a traditional Southern mom, who is a great storyteller and who owned a gourmet shop when I was a kid, and a complex French father, who is a builder and taught me independence, utility, and resourcefulness,” she says. “Both of their personalities are in my work.”
On de Parry’s website (gretadeparry.com), photos of her work are accompanied by thoughtful and pithy descriptions, some including silly one-liners such as “Son of a birch.” Her Domino cutting boards have food-safe epoxy dots painted on the surface, giving them a playful look. “I want my work to be approachable,” she says. And like de Parry herself, it is that—and much more.