Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Seafood Retreat

Here is a photo of Chair Notes covergirl Sue Scott on our recent trip to Cape Cod. Thanks to the generosity of Russ Mclean (you may remember him as a student last summer) we enjoyed sunny days at his lovely cottage near the beach in Eastham. After 15 years of trying, Sue has convinced me that the occasional excursion away from the shop is a healthy, even productive thing. It does seem to clear the mental cobwebs. Of course, you can take the chairmaker out of the shop, but....

So I managed to do some fun new design work, that will be months before I can even think of making, and of course, stopped in shops to look for old chairs. I enjoy finding chairs of all types, I think that different styles and technologies can really get the creative juices flowing, but coming across classic Windsors is, of course, always a treat. It's as though the craftsman himself is standing in front of me.

I'll be posting more photos of my finds, but here are a couple of c-arms that I came across at Pleasant Bay Antiques ( Not only did the proprietor have the nicest examples that I found on the Cape this trip, but he was kind enough to grant me permission to photograph them at my leisure. A great combination!

When facing an antique Windsor, I am almost always struck by the quirky nature that they exhibit. In days before formica and perfect looking pressboard, it seems that the notion of creating shapes marched to a different drummer. There is a liveliness to the shapes that encourages movement and air to flow around the piece. It's as though everything around the chair must interact with its individuality. I pity the flat table top that comes near it!

The delicacy of the pieces also stand out. Besides being smaller in general, the thin arms and spindles of these chairs are a testament to the technology employed in their making. I don't subscribe to the notion that all continuous arms must have auxiliary bracing to survive, and am happy to see that these two examples bear me out. Of course the thin arms are a vulnerable spot, but shaving with the fibers and using white oak leaves me comfortable enough to offer my guarantee.

Perhaps the greatest insight that these chairs have to offer, is that there are no hard rules to designing. There are so many variations between them, that the message is clear. Make the chair you want to make, and maybe someday, long after your gone, someone will gaze upon your creation and catch a glimpse of you in it.
And now, I get back to work...

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