I wanted to make my Dad a chair for his 70th birthday, and was inspired by a few things to make what you see here. The general form is from a group of Queen Anne chairs made in New york City circa 1740. And from a chair made by Henry Hardcastle in Charleston, South Carolina. Henry Hardcastle had moved there from New York around 1755.
So this chair is a “what if”, that is , what if Hardcastle made one of these earlier chairs with the more Rococo carving. That seemed like a fun idea to me so I made it. The chair is made of Black Walnut and has bird head armrests, carved knees with c scrolls, vines and hairy paw feet. My Dad, a retired Teamster, was not the kind of guy to go looking for a Rococo chair but I think he liked it. He never got to sit in the finished chair though, because I was too fussy about the upholstery.
He wanted the fabric to be red, so I picked this one. The seat looks a bit overstuffed, so it just goes to show sometimes it doesn’t make sense to be so focused on the way it’ll look. Just get it done and have a seat.
That’s what the customer said. It was a present for his wife. Something with color and well, make it funky. So I painted it mustard yellow milk paint and then barn red. I wiped off the red in imitation of flame grained birch.
Then I added a little pitch black.
The whole thing is about five feet wide and five feet tall.
This is a joined chest that would have been made in the Connecticut River Valley near Hadley Massachusetts from 1680 to 1730. It origins go back much further, it’s medieval really, The designs decorating this chest are said to derive from pagan fertility symbols.
They were made for young women as hope chests, as this one was. It is made of red oak, sassafras and aromatic cedar.
The carving on these chests is of highly stylized, and abstracted, leaves flowers and vines, using a flat chip carved technique. You can see in the first picture how the pattern is repeated and flipped again and again. It was fun to do. It makes me think of Celtic stone carving. On top of the chest is a bible box made of sassafras carved with a similar tulip-vine pattern. A raking light really shows it off.
It is a small detail, but I think it makes this simple little box something special. This piece is based on a early Queen Anne box but I’ve pushed it a little further back to William & Mary. An interesting time for cabinet makers. In fact it was when cabinet makers started to come into their own. Before then they were called joiners and would have also been building houses and using the same “joinery” for both.
So here we have a box that is nailed together with a dovetailed drawer inside. The top is covered with walnut crotch veneer and edged with walnut cross banding. The drawer front and sides are solid, highly figured walnut. The drawer sides are made of sassafras, a local aromatic hardwood.
Oh, so the detail. It’s the hand cast brass hardware. They help give an interesting rhythm,with the feet, to the facade.
When I get the time and inclination something like this happens. Here is Moby Dick and Ahab, carved from a 16/4 chunk of poplar and painted with milk paint. What is it exactly? A toy, a weathervane, I don’t know, but it was inspired by both.
Here’s another piece, carved out of basswood and Spanish cedar. It is carved on both sides each with different faces.
Furnishings hand-made in the best manner.
54 North Union St.
Lambertville, NJ 08530
“Hello 2010 this is the 18th Century, are you reading me?”