Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bright Blue

The "Bright Blue" that I'm referring to is from my post about the limited palette that I used to paint with. After a year or so of using muted colors, bright blue came along and changed the way that I looked at painting. The walnut of my latest chair has brought along a similar awakening.
I've worked with "pretty" wood, such as cherry, but the lush surface of the walnut and the ease of working it is a whole new game.

Perhaps it's because it is so dark and fine grained that every little detail seems to glow. It creates countless opportunities to play with light and shadow, but it comes with an obligation as well. Any ill considered or muddy area will shine just as brightly as the best made shapes and marks. Luckily, this stuff is not interested in fighting.

As I was monkeying around with the crest bending, and ending up with some castaways, I took it as an opportunity to readdress the crest shape. I settled on the shape below.

I really like the look of it in the chair. The motion of the cut away sides helps move the eye back to the spindles and the center of the chair, plus it was plain old fun to make. Below is the entire chair, all in all, I'm pleased with the results.

One of the unexpected results of working with the walnut was the pace with which I made the piece. Something about it slowed me down, not by much and perhaps it was just a perception, but I felt more conscious of what I was doing. Knowing that any small mistake would be glaring might have something to do with it, but it wasn't all nerves, I enjoyed it.

Below is the seat, which I glued up from three pieces. I used the glue up technique to align the growth rings that I covered in a previous post and it worked out great. While under close inspection, the joints reveal themselves, at first it looks like a one piece seat. I really don't mind if folks play "where's the joint", but I take some joy in them having to really focus to find it!

Now I'm sitting down to write an article about building this chair which will hopefully come out this year.


greg said...

I love the detail of the crest rail as it enters the posts. This is similar to the back of the volute ears on the fan backs we made this summer in Maine. Is there a traditional provenance of this, or is it something Curtis or you invented?

Anonymous said...

Beautiful chair all round , will the article come out in chair notes ?and was the seat glued up with hide glue ? . Thanks MiM .

Jack Plane said...

What a fabulous looking chair! The arm detail is so crisp, yet flowing and that seat is without doubt the most beautiful Windsor seat I've ever seen.

Kari Hultman said...

Peter, that chair is simply stunning. Crisp, fluid, and elegant.

Peter Galbert said...

You are absolutely right that the shaping of the crest is influenced by the crest on a comb back. That was one of the first experiences I had as a chairmaker and it's always been a favorite. It's a traditional solution that elegantly transitions from one thickness to another. I with I could take credit for it, but like so much of the good stuff in Windsors, it was the work of countless makers.

I did glue up the seat with hide glue, which worked out great. The article will be in a print magazine, I'll announce which one when they accept the final draft!

Jack and Kari,
thanks for the encouragement, it's much appreciated!

Eric Gower said...

That's a very beautiful chair. I hope the magazine article will be available this side(UK) of the Atlantic. It would be a very nice project to hone my skills for!

Peter Galbert said...

thanks! If all goes well, the magazine has wide distribution, now the trick is getting all the right info in it!

Andrew Jack said...

one of the best reasons for working with walnut has to be the smell. is that weird?

Unknown said...

that has to be one of the nicest chairs I've ever laid my eyes on~ I wonder if my arse would agree! ;)
I hope to someday be able to cross paths with your teaching schedule. chair making is indeed on my wish list of things to try and this one is inspiring to say the least.
well done- and thanks for sharing.

Peter Galbert said...

I agree that the smell is one of the best things about working with walnut, but that doesn't make it any less weird ;)

thanks for the comments, not having met your arse, it's difficult to say, but it sits me fine!

Anonymous said...


Man, that is a gorgeous chair!!! I understand that walnut contains toxins that can be harmful to dogs and horses. Did you experience any difficulties or symptoms, or take any special precautions when handling the wood? I look forward to reading the magazine article.... Again, one gorgeous chair!!!

--peter m

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks Peter,
Lucky for me that I didn't spend too much time sanding. I have been careful to keep the dogs out of the scraps, you know how Lil loves to chew wedges, and as for horses, I've still successfully avoided getting one for Sue!