Kagen Schaefer – Mathematics Woodworker

A few years ago one of Artisans of the Valley’s clients, having just seen our custom  solid walnut “sequence chest” (shown below) which was a full size coffee table designed to open a series of obvious and hidden compartments based on a specific sequence of events, asked us about a commission for a puzzle box. We pondered for a while about doing a small scale puzzle box, then contemplated a bit more, and then thought about it for a while, did a bit of research, and then finally drew the obvious conclusion: Eric & Stan are not the right artists for this type of commission.

Solid Walnut Sequence Chest - Coffee & Gaming Table by Artisans of the Valley - shown assembled.Solid Walnut Sequence Chest - Coffee & Gaming Table by Artisans of the Valley - shown in segments.

Every artist has their niche, something that fits their personality, their skills, and drives their passion to create. When don’t fit a particular project, we always try to provide the best direction we can in order to help our clients fulfill their unique requirements. Eric’s search for an appropriate artist to create a puzzle box lead him to find a young artist named Kagen Schaefer. Eric contacted Kagen to discuss the commission, and provide some insight on the project and the client’s requirements. These first contacts also service as a sort of call screening, Kagen certainly passed this test in no time at all.

We all, as artisans, come to crossroads in our lives where we must make decisions about our path, this most often results in dividing ourselves between what we enjoy and what pays the bills. Kagen is an exception to this normality, displaying a unique talent for as he describes it combining his love for both mathematics and the visual arts.

He found his calling in the world of woodworking where he implements his use of geometric calculations and intricate designs to create an amazing array of puzzle boxes ranging from simplistic to extensively complex. The angles, the interlocking, and the overall form and function of his pieces are a testament to both his skills as a mathematician and as a craftsman.

Kagen’s skills have won him awards at the International Puzzle Party Design Competition, held annually. He’s been featured in Fine Woodworking Magazine, on the Karakuri Creation Group web page, a renowned Japanese site for secret opening boxes.

Based in Denver, Colorado his pieces are prized in collections around the world. He’s always creating, always learning, and it’s well worth your time to visit his website and check out his work at http://kagenschaefer.com.hosting.domaindirect.com/

To give you a preview we’ve extracted some of the latest updates from his website:

Artist & Woodworker Kagen Schaefer“I will be releasing two new exciting designs this year. The first is my next secret opening box. This is the perfect blend of the Block Box, Pattern Box, and Braided Box. As a puzzle and a work of art is very well balanced. The solution is not too tricky and not too difficult. I am very fond of patterns that transform into new patterns. Naturally this new box begins with one tessellation and transforms into a completely new one. It has a magic like quality, since each tessellation differs so greatly. Click here to see more. – Kagen Schaefer (Shown Below Bottom)

“The next project will take place this fall. This is to be one of my finest designs. The Lotus Table is a circular version of the Cafe Wall Table and the Pattern Box. The linear movements of these two previous pieces are translated into circular movements. Now the patterns take on a very amazing kaleidoscopic effect. It has six drawers, and a seventh secret space. It takes on the appearance of a lotus flower when all six drawers are open. I have only drawings of the table to show for now. Click here to see more. – Kagen Schaefer (Shown Below top)

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