The 25th Annual Wharton Esherick Museum Woodworking Competition & Exhibition 2018-06-17T16:16:50+00:00

2018 Competition Theme: Stools


Wharton Esherick’s three-legged stools are some of his most iconic pieces. In the 1950s, Wharton began forming scraps of wood whose grain was too interesting to burn as firewood, into the seats of stools. No two were exactly the same; he shaped and sculpted each seat to whatever form the wood grain suggested, always keeping comfort in mind.

To celebrate 25 years of the Woodworking Competition, we are revisiting the challenge of the stool. While Wharton may have considered his three-legged stools “bread and butter” pieces, highly affordable at $25 each, each one is a unique work of functional art, and therein lies your challenge for 2018.


Through the annual woodworking competition, the Museum encourages resourceful, innovative thinking that will result in objects that surprise and delight. We see the Wharton Esherick legacy as a constant source of inspiration across the creative fields.


A jury will select pieces to be exhibited at the Museum from Sept. – Dec. 2018. The pieces may be offered for sale with a 30% commission for the Wharton Esherick Museum. Prices are set by the artist. Cash prizes of $500, $300, and $200 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will be awarded, as well as a $100 Horace Hartshaw award for high school and middle school students and a $200 Member’s Choice Award voted on at the opening reception. The competition is open to everyone, entered works should be:

  • Functional
  • Primarily made of wood
  • New creations or pieces already created
  • Non-traditional, an imaginative new design
  • Available for the duration of the exhibition


Please submit no more than 3 images for each entered piece. We recommend two overall images and one detail. The images should be JPEG files, burned to a CD (or submitted online). The jury will select finalists via your submitted images, we suggest you submit as high quality images as possible. The Museum will not return image CDs. There is a $30 entry fee ($20 for Museum members). The fee is non-refundable and covers the entry of up to three pieces. Additional entry fees apply for more than three pieces. Horace Hartshaw Entries: $15 per student. Applies to current high school & middle school students only. Horace Hartshaw worked with Wharton in the 1950-60s. This award was created to honor his memory and encourage woodworking in younger generations.

Applicants can submit their work for consideration online, or request a paper copy or PDF of the application by contacting Laura Heemer at laura@whartonesherickmuseum.org.


A jury of three will select the finalists for the exhibition from the images submitted; the artist’s names will not be revealed during the judging process. It is highly recommended you submit high quality images to ensure the judges see your piece at its best.
2018 Judges:

  • Mira Nakashima, Creative Director, Nakashima Woodworkers
  • Albert LeCoff, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Center for Art in Wood
  • Laura Heemer, Curator & Program Director, Wharton Esherick Museum


Please note on your entry form if your piece(s) are for sale. If they are not for sale, please include a value for insurance and your piece will be marked “Not for Sale” during the exhibition. The Museum retains a 30% commission of your retail price if sold.


The deadline for entry is July 1, 2018. If submitting by mail, a July 1st post mark is acceptable, online entries must be submitted by midnight. All entrants will be notified by July 31, 2018 of the jury’s decision. Mail entry forms and image CDs to:

The Wharton Esherick Museum
PO Box 595, Paoli, PA 19301



If your piece is selected for the exhibition, you are responsible for shipping your work to the Museum. The Museum will pay the cost of shipping unsold pieces back to you after the exhibition closes. You are welcome to drop off your piece before the exhibition, If you are unable to pick your piece back up after the show, you will be responsible for the cost of shipping.


Pieces selected for exhibition will be displayed in a secure area and are insured by the Museum from the time of their arrival to the time of their delivery to the artists or purchaser. The exhibition will open at our annual party in September 9, 2018 and run through December 30, 2018.