March 13, 2013

Cloud Chest

Rough & smooth cherry, leopardwood
55H x 26W x 13D
Collection of Yanyan & Kelly Perry
Atlanta, Georgia

June 8, 2012

Forbidden Chest of Drawers

Old friends commission a piece for their house tucked into a wooded ridge outside of town in the western foothills of Georgia. A largish house of stone and wood and glass, its interior rises and falls through different levels under wooden beams and among an eclectic mix of furniture serenely balancing forms from 18th Century England, the 19th Century American South and 11th Century Japan. It is the Japanese which interests us as we talk, her metiers as an artist in papermaking and woven fabric and kimono. In the end, her directive as patron is unimprovable -- “Make me something pretty.”
Walnut & maple w/ butternut drawer-fronts
28W x 16D x 61H
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Berry
Rome, Georgia

June 6, 2012

Almost Minimum Glove Table

“Minimum is the ultimate ornament, a self-righteous crime, the contemporary Baroque. It does not signify beauty, but guilt. Its demonstrative earnestness drives whole civilizations in the welcoming arms of camp and kitsch. Ostensibly a relief from constant sensorial onslaught, minimum is maximum in drag, a stealth laundering of luxury: the stricter the lines, the more irresistible the seductions. Its role is not to approximate the sublime, but to minimize the shame of consumption, drain embarrassment, to lower the higher. Minimum now exists in a state of parasitic co-dependency with overdose: to have and not to have, craving and owning, finally collapsed in a single signifier.” -- Rem Koolhaas

My first piece of furniture was a "slab", an antebellum huntboard. I was innocent both of design and technique, but for that reason also without constraint -- I could simply make what I wanted. And so, swiftly, what began in innocence descended into the invidious baroque, in that case a kind of Southern gothic. No matter, a second piece was built with a lighter hand, plain horizontal lines guardian of a single curve. But the third, the one you see below, comes within distance of an expressive minimalism which I want to make in wood, one which would confound the entertaining but preposterous bombast of the quotation above, one (if it were only possible) unaware that it’s been designed at all ...

Cherry & bird's-eye maple
48W x 15D x 37H
Collection of maker
Marshall, NC

May 4, 2012

Lost Woman's Vanity

Fleeing an unhappy affair, an unsatisfying job, she'd found the small, grassy meadow hidden within a ring of steep hills at the upper end of a spring-fed branch. In restoring the little cobwebbed, inward leaning cabin, she'd discovered, in a tiny room cobbled from one end of the rear porch, next to a primitive bath, a dressing table with an old-fashioned oval mirror. Here she would sit to read, aided by candlelight, in the twilit evenings before the moon rose above the meadow ...   
Cherry & reclaimed longleaf heart pine
44W x 20D x 31H
Collection of maker
Marshall, NC

March 25, 2012

Seven-Drawer Chest

A rough pine semainier, the seven-drawer chest of 18th-century France traditionally purposed for clothing, a selection of garments, often lingerie, for each day of the week. The design a nod both to the dramatic centered domes of public buildings of the 18th century, from which the longleaf pine of its construction dates, and to the skyscapers of the late 19th century, whose simple stacked architecture it borrows.

Reclaimed longleaf heart pine
22-3/4W x 20-3/4D x 60H
Collection of Ms. Melissa Upchurch
Marshall, NC

November 20, 2011

A Table for Fireside

A sidetable, to be placed next to a comfortable armchair, beside a fireplace, for the art books of an original and adventurous painter and possibly the very occasional use of a husband -- doctor, player at tennis, musician, collector of guitars. The room a beautiful open space filled with art and an eclectic array of handmade furnishings. Functionally, a horizontal surface raised to a useful height, a second surface below for waiting books, legs to support. But what to engage the room, to entertain the senses? A broken slab of butternut, spied by the lady in the maker's studio, to provoke the piece with its ruined asymmetry.
Butternut & walnut
20D x 28H
Collection of Gayle and Doug Paul
Weaverville, NC

September 15, 2011

Laurel Mountain Bench

A walnut slab, constructed of butted pieces and hewn to a surprisingly comfortable seat, required little more. But what it asked for was legs, arms and rail of slightly sculpted mahogany surrounding drawn ash spindles -- a kind of rectilinear mountain gothic which nonetheless has seemed tolerably comfortable in company ... 
Mahogany, walnut & ash
61W x 17D x 33H
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Sinist
Celo, North Carolina

Dreaming Writer's Table

Intended as an elegantly limbed writing table for a lady’s bedroom, this piece morphed unaccountably during construction into a muscular campaign desk, minus the portability. This may have been a product of the maker’s inexperience, or lack of confidence, but I prefer to invoke one of the great pleasures given the designer who takes up tools -- that of following his chisel ... 
Cherry & maple w/ walnut accents
60W x 22D x 31H
Collection of Yanyan & Kelly Perry
Atlanta, Georgia

The slow flow of handmade objects

Flow Gallery occupies a handsome space of old brick and wood on Main Street in downtown Marshall, North Carolina alongside the French Broad River, an easy morning’s float downriver from Asheville.

Founded by eight women -- potters and weavers and woodworkers, makers of jewelry and clothing and perfumes and oils and aromatics -- who maintain studios in the old high school on Blanahassett Island directly across the river,  the gallery is dedicated to the display and sale of beautiful and purposeful objects made by the hands of local artisans. 

The slow flow of handmade objects

Offering the work not only of its founders, but also that of more than 40 local consignors, the juried gallery showcases the best handmade works of its own community and the region and consciously encourages an older way of craft supported by the Slow Craft movement. 

Not so much a reaction to modernity, perhaps, as a modest suggestion for its improvement, the Slow Craft  movement proposes the thoughtful and time-consuming production of objects made by hand as a self-sustaining economic model, based on respect for traditional ways of making, intelligent and careful design with an eye for the longevity of objects, locally and sustainably sourced materials, and encouragement of the local and regional flavors which lead to distinctive, as opposed to mass-produced, objects.

Inexplicably, this coven of craftswomen has now taken a provincial furniture maker as a member, and displays his work alongside their own within the gallery ...

September 13, 2011

Longleaf Huntboard

A celebration of the emergent properties of 250-year-old Southern longleaf pine recovered from an abandoned textile mill in south Georgia, and of an almost primitive, but storied, antebellum furniture form.

The huntboard, or "slab,"  figures prominently in nostalgic tales of the pre-War South. Otherwise merely a crudely made, and usually painted, sideboard, its most arresting features are its height, examples approaching 50 inches not uncommon, and the romantic tales purporting to explain this characteristic. The huntboard, it is speculated -- without evidence, no matter -- was meant to be placed outdoors as a sideboard serving drinks to mounted hunters riding into the yard at day's end. Other guesses place it indoors, but in the open central gallery which derived from the dogtrots of country cabins, where weary, and dirty, hunters could stand and take their drinks without disturbing a formal parlor.   

Reclaimed longleaf heart pine
49W x 18D x 42H

Longleaf yellow pine (Pinus palustris), which once stretched unbroken across 93 million acres of the Southern coastal plain, and from whose timbers the masts and keels of the 18th Century British navy and the posts and beams of the 19th Century American textile industry were hewn, had by the early 20th Century been almost entirely logged, but is today experiencing a renaissance on two fronts. 

Timberlands across the South, their owners having been persuaded of the economic and ecological superiorities of the old forest, are being extensively replanted to longleaf, and the demise of the textile industry in particular, and of the old factories and warehouses of the late industrial revolution in general, are providing a wealth of reclaimed timbers being put to use again in flooring, paneling, moulding, timberframes -- and furniture!

The heartwood of longleaf pine, dense and resiny, releases to the saw a deep, twangy scent redolent of country sawmills and old turpentine camps, and instantly reveals an astonishing range of color beginning innocently in pale nutmeg and cream and, having wandered among the middle range of yellows, ochres and dusty reds, descends precipitously through a slide of darkening blood reds into the shadowed canyon of a shocking, deeply saturated iron purple. Similarly its wild figuration, each slightly different angle of sawcut provoking an often vertiginous array of errant grain-lines, threatening constraint ... 

July 12, 2011

Coffee table bench

As living space contracts once again in response to population density and a reborn frugality, furniture that serves more than one purpose reduces both clutter and cost. A sturdy coffee table constructed of a thick slab of 100-year-old cherry and heavily mounted can support three persons when company comes, as well as coffee cups and the Times on Sunday
mornings en famille.

Old cherry
61W x 21H x 16D
Collection of Mr. Mark Brown
Asheville, NC

January 1, 2011

Chair Benches

A pair of dining chairs for a client originally interested in bench seating at table. The solution? Small benches that function as chairs.

Walnut & cherry
20W x 18D x 34H
Collection of Ms. Diane van Helden
Madison County, NC