Naturally Inspired - The Sirofchuck StoryComments (0)
©Sirofchuck Studios - All designs property of Paul Sirofchuck
It comes down to passion!
Sirofchuck Studios workshop in the woods.
For Paul Sirofchuck, it comes down to passion ... a passion for wood, design, furniture, masterful woodworking and of course, family. Sirofchuck has been creating award-winning custom-made furniture and art since 1994.
“Nature has inspired me to do more work. Mainly, the wood inspires me.”
Paul with chisel and mallet building a custom chair.
Sirofchuck has been on a creative journey from an early age to where he is today owning Sirofchuck Studios. By appreciating nature, experiencing trial and error, honing his skills and putting in a lot of hard work, he developed a distinct contemporary-organic style of woodworking. It didn’t happen overnight ... it all took time, study and refinement. His efforts and perseverance have paid off. Early on, Paul would enter pieces in juried art competitions and win numerous awards. That’s when he began to build a reputation and clients.
Paul is an architect, designer and craftsman from Ligonier, PA. He grew up in western PA and went on to study architecture at Temple University, where he met his wife Mandy, an accomplished stained glass artist. Together, they own the Main Exhibit Gallery on Main Street in the quaint town of Ligonier, PA.
Chairs and templates hanging high in the sunlit Sirofchuck workshop.
“I liked doing woodworking since I was a kid,” said Paul. His father had a shop in their basement growing up. That's where it all started. His first project was a bench.
After Paul graduated from Temple, he worked as an architect for twelve years in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but wasn’t feeling fulfilled. He had to make a change.
Paul Sirofchuck was featured on the September 2023 Woodcraft Premium catalog.
“It came down to passion: I loved wood.”
“I wasn’t getting where I wanted to be,” said Paul. “I would doodle on my sketch pad at lunch and I couldn’t wait to get home so I could feed my passion and make something.”
He began to make some chairs in his spare time. Paul built his first chair in 1992. It was built in a 10 x 10 shed in Philadelphia, where they lived at the time. He sold a few chairs and decided it was time to make the jump to woodworking. Basically a self-taught woodworker, he only had a minimal amount of tools at first and later began to accumulate them. In fact, one of the first projects that Paul felt important to build was a fine cabinet/tool chest to house and organize some of his growing collection of woodworking tools. That project that he built, he still uses today. Once he started as a full-time woodworker, he said he realized that a good joiners bench was a necessity with proper vices to hold the work.
One of the first projects that Paul built was a cabinet/tool chest to house and organize his woodworking tools.
He shared that you can do a lot with just a few tools when you have to. It can become interesting, but it is possible. Later, Paul designed and built their home outside Ligonier. His woodworking takes place down a wooded lane in his magical eclectic workshop, tucked amongst the trees.
The Sirofchuck workshop environment is unbelievable. Every nook and cranny filled with wood, jigs hung up high, clamps and hand tools, each in their special places. It’s an awesome, somewhat organized accumulation of woodworking treasures from over the years. Santa’s workshop has nothing on this place. Natural light illuminates the main work area from windows high above the shop. An old local high school shop work bench from the 1950s, full of character, serves as Paul’s main work surface.
The Sirofchuck saw mill is not far from the workshop.
They have their own on-site mill, harvesting wood off of their and their neighbors properties. They have a kiln, but usually prefer to stack and air-dry the wood. The shop has a hallway with both sides filled with gorgeous wood slabs and boards waiting for their next life in a wooden creation.
Their own harvested lumber stacked and stored for future use.
“I remember a lot of the wood and where I got it,” commented Paul. “We’ve gotten a little crowded over time,” he reflected as he pulled out a Red Oak board.
As far as preference, Paul likes Cherry, Maple and Walnut and enjoys working with burl and live-edge pieces. When designing, he likes to work in miniature. He’ll spend a lot of time cutting pieces on a bandsaw to get just the right shape or curve that he is looking for and making small models, only a few inches high. Also, sketching is part of the routine.
“Most of my designs are all intuition. When it looks right or feels right ... then I know it’s right.”
Sirofchuck furniture and sculpture designs often show organic shapes with symmetry playing an important role such as shown in the pieces above. Left to right. Red Ball I Sculpture, Mirror Runs Through It, Occasional Chair and Red Ball II Sculpture.
Sirofchuck furniture. Left to right, Creative Proximity Desk and Rolling Desk Chair, Currents Credenza, Raeff Chair, and Ottoman.
Paul doesn’t just build chairs, tables and cabinets. He also creates credenzas, bookcases, mirrors, desks and sculptures. He even makes pepper mills, boxes, cutting boards and many other projects.
Left to right. Burl Coffee Table, Diverging Paths Chest of Drawers, Confluence Split Cabinet and Desk and Chair.
We’ve highlighted Paul and his work. Let’s now dovetail in the rest of the family, who are highly talented in their own right. You might say that creativity is a family trait.
Paul’s wife, Mandy, is a highly successful stained glass artist. She’s been doing that since 1984. Mandy got hooked on stained glass after writing a high school research paper on the topic. She has a degree in journalism, and was a graphic designer and a copy writer before turning her concentration to stained glass.
Saturday Morning, leaded stained glass three panel divider screen by Mandy Sirofchuck.
Stained glass pieces by Mandy Sirofchuck. Left to right. St Joseph, Farewell and Cor Immaculata.
Their daughter, Clair Sirofchuck Maier, is a wonderful painter and illustrator. She also runs their family owned Main Exhibit Gallery & Art Center in Ligonier. Their gallery displays many quality items for sale such as furniture, paintings, stained glass, ceramics, jewelry, baskets, quilts and crafts, just to name a few. These items are created by local and regional artists. Also, the Art Center in the gallery offers many classes, including pottery, stained glass, painting and print making, and also has kid art camps. Their offerings change; check back often.
Clair Maier paintings. Left to right. Pleinaire Home Sketch and Bushy Tailed.
Clair Maier paintings. Left to right. Big Moose Lake and Across the Sky.
One of their family’s recent art shows was the “In Our Elements” show that featured works in wood, glass and painting at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Ligonier with works by Paul and Mandy as well as their daughter, Clair.
Check out the video featuring some of the Sirofchuck family's creations.
Christopher Maier and Paul Sirofchuck clamp a piece of furniture.
Clair met her husband, Christopher Maier, while attending St. Vincent College. Christopher has been assisting Paul in the workshop and working on mastering the art of dovetailing.
“It’s pretty sweet,” stated Christopher about learning from his father-in-law Paul, “He’s a great teacher.”
Christopher is learning the finer aspects of furniture making.
Paul commented that Christopher already knows more than he did at that age. His future looks bright.
It seems that creative people are beginning to rediscover working with their hands. There’s just something about it. Woodworking, pottery, painting, sewing -- there’s an age-old appreciation for developing those creative talents.
The Main Exhibit Gallery in Ligoneer, PA offers furniture, paintings, stained glass, ceramics, jewelry, baskets, quilts and crafts for sale.
Paul suggests to beginning woodworkers to not be afraid: just try it. For instance, learning to cut dovetails; just get some scrap wood and start to learn good hand tool skills and technique. Get a good plane, saw and a set of chisels. They are essential. Learn how to maintain and sharpen them. You can pick up old tools at yard sales and auctions; learn how to refurbish them. Don’t be afraid to take some classes and go to demos, and work on some small projects.
It’s awesome to see the creations of the Sirofchuck family. Their work is inspiring. We hope you feel inspired as well. You may be the next aspiring artist or craftsman on your creative journey following your passion.
You must be logged in to write a comment. Log In