Woodworker's fan-planes take off

WORKING ON A FAN is Dan Pfeiffer. He is looking at the blade of a fan he hopes will become one of his fan-planes. He has been making the planes for two months and sells them at Vaudeville in Fredericksburg. — Standard-Radio Post/Austin Eck

By Austin Eck— In front of Dan Pfeiffer’s shop is a small patch of land that has bicycles, old trees and scrap metal strewn everywhere. It is easy to call the assortment junk, but for Pfeiffer it is his “library.” 

Pfeiffer is more of an artist than a woodworker. He transforms wood into intricate carvings, but what is turning heads is his latest series of creations: antique fans made to look like planes.

One day, he put a sickle blade on top of an antique fan, and the idea clicked. It was an airplane, he said.

He attached a solid fuselage to the back of the fan, the sickle was the wings and the blades of the fan were the propeller blades.

The move to creating pieces with fans from woodwork is a transition for Pfeiffer. 

“Every four or five years, you’ve got to reinvent yourself,” he said.

Before moving to the Hill Country, he worked as an architect in San Antonio. His work spans carving columns, creating tables and making statues, all out of wood.

He moved out of the city to escape the stresses related with city life, he said.

“After two years in the country, my creativity started to explode,” Pfeiffer said.

He cites his increased creativity to being more connected with nature.

Now he focuses part of his creativity on his antique fans which he finds in scrap yards or they are given to him. The fans must be working and oscillate for him to use them.

When the fans oscillate, it adds another dimension to the art. Viewers can see the plane moving and grab a hold of the image of the plane flying.

“When the fans oscillate, they move,” Pfeiffer said. “They’re kinetic.”

Each plane he makes is an improvement on the last. He began with a basic idea, but allowed the idea to grow.

“They evolve,” he said. “They keep getting better.”

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