Thursday, April 17, 2014

Starting from Photos

I've often been asked about starting a project from a photograph. I made my first chair that way, as a copy of one of Curtis Buchanans chair in a magazine. When I saw it in person, I was surprised by how far off the mark I was. Not only did I get just about every shape and proportion wrong, but the magazine had made his yellow chair look quite green. That was a lucky break for me as the green that I painted the chair became a favorite color!
Since then, I've learned a lot about the process.

A client recently asked me to reproduce a chair for a set, and the Museum where the original is housed refused to let us take measurements. Don't get me started...
Anyway, here is the scan that he sent me.

He is dropping the book by with the image soon so I can get better details, but this is my starting point.

My first step is to create a rough scaled drawing while getting to know the details and relationships in the chair. I'm trying to figure out the role that the different elements play so that I can get the overall impression to match, even before fleshing out the details.
I try to pin the scale of the chair by some educated guesses. Usually, older chairs like this are rather small, but a 17" to 18" height at the front is probably reasonable, and besides, it will ensure that the chairs can be used at a normal table. The chair is not shot straight on, which is almost always the case, but it is straight on enough that I can use the height to guess the distance between centerpoints of the bow where it enters the seat are about 13" apart. I confirmed this dimension on my own hoop backs as well as the measured drawings in John Kassays book.

Once I had those dimensions, I was able to start a scaled drawing at 3/16" scale. After I had found the width of the bow where it enters the seat on the 3/16" scale ruler, I printed a copy of the photo so that the dimension of the bow in the photo matched the drawing. From there I could scale all the parts directly from the photo.

Next, I'll refine all the proportions, measurements and angles in an accurate drawing that I can scale up for the patterns and forms.
Next week Tommy MacDonald is stopping by to film an episode of Rough Cut on building Windsors and we will be showing the construction of this chair.

Monday, April 14, 2014

It was just a matter of time

I have a chainsaw, I have logs, I have goats...

I've been plugging away on loads of chairs and chair related projects, so I guess it's only natural to seek some sort of unrelated hobby for my free time!


My chainsaw is way too heavy to do any fine work, but I used it for the big chunks, then I turned to my favorite hatchet and finished off with a gouge.

 Between drawing the illustrations for my book and doing this, I feel like I'm right back in art school

But here, the critics are more forgiving.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nearly Free Class Available

Thanks for the responses to this post, I am going to pick a student from the folks who have already replied.

I've just gotten an email from Bob van Dyke at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. One of our students for the class that begins this weekend can't make it due to a family issue. He has generously offered to pay the tuition of the class if anyone wants to fill the spot.


The only cost will be the materials fee which is less than $200. It's a great opportunity to make a continuous armchair. If I get more than one interested party, I will pull names from a hat, closing the drawing after I get the first three names to ensure that there is enough time for folks to make the proper arrangements. The class runs this Friday through Sunday and then meets again in a few weeks for another weekend. You can see all the details on the CVSW website.