Artist to display his wooden creations at Art on the Mall

July 25, 2012 | Arts, Features, UToday
By Samantha Watson

In Dave Grabarczyk’s basement, blocks of wood are stacked on one another, waiting to be transformed into beautiful, functional works of art.

Dave Grabarczyk showed off some of his finished creations.

For 30 years, he has been displaying his creations at craft and art shows, and this year his woodwork will be showcased at the 20th annual Art on the Mall Sunday, July 29, on Centennial Mall on UT’s Main Campus.

Grabarczyk creates valet and jewelry boxes out of oak, walnut and cedar, with accents of dyed veneer and exotic woods. Bloodwood is one he enjoys, with its vibrant naturally red color, as well as peltogyne, also known as purpleheart, which has a violet hue.

Not only do the boxes feature inlays of colorful woods, some are cut into shapes using a band saw. Some have more drawers than others, and some even have hidden compartments.

Many of the drawers have smaller segments so jewelry can be organized as the user sees fit. Each drawer is lined by flocking — a process that involves attaching tiny fibers to the wood using glue to create a soft interior.

Dave Grabarczyk drew a pattern on one of his boxes.

While the band saw boxes have a free-form style, Grabarczyk also creates jewelry and valet boxes that look more traditional but still feature the colorful woods and veneers. All boxes come in different shapes, sizes and designs, and the prices range from $25 to $150.

Grabarczyk hasn’t always crafted boxes; up until last year, he made furniture, including shelves, tables and coat racks. He even created a lot of the wooden furniture in his own home.

He now prefers making jewelry and valet boxes because it allows him to be more creative, and the pieces make for easier transport.

“It’s dangerous — I’ve lost part of my thumb — but it’s fun to do. I enjoy the woodworking,” Grabarczyk said.

Since his retirement in 2010, Grabarczyk has gone to more art and craft shows than usual and hopes to attend as many as possible. This will be his 10th year at Art on the Mall, and he also showcases his work at other craft shows, including the Worthington Arts Festival, Crosby Festival of the Arts, Black Swamp Arts Festival and the Saline Fall Craft Show.

“Doing the art shows is nice because you meet people from all over the country,” he said. “And it’s nice to see all the different art — I really like art.”

Grabarczyk is an alumnus of UT, receiving his bachelor and master of education degrees in 1972 and 1975, respectively, and an education specialist degree in 1978. He worked as an elementary special education teacher with Toledo Public Schools for 33 years.

For almost 30 years, he has been a member of the Toledo Craftsman’s Guild; he is a board member and serves as publicity chair.

To see his work, attend Art on the Mall Sunday, July 29, on UT’s Centennial Mall. The free, public event will take place rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and feature original art, as well as live music, food and a children’s art area.

For more information on Grabarczyk’s work, call 419.874.6367 or email him at

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