Archive for February, 2011

Design – sooner or later

 It is, of course, very rewarding to reproduce furniture from a bygone era, especially if you have a set of drawings of the original piece. Here at the Woodwork Academy students have been reproducing the Hepplewhite lamp stand (Fine Woodworking May/June 2000) quite a number of times (I have lost count) and the reasons are fairly obvious.

Andrew with his lamp stand

Firstly, in Western culture we derive substatial satisfaction from reproducing things from previous ages, in particular, music and furniture. Architechture and literature have lost it. Secondly, the piece of furniture being reproduced reflects the design thinking of the period and in the case of Shaker furniture, even the worldview of the designers.

Carolus polishing up his Hepplewhite lamp stand

 But sooner or later the aspiring woodworker will want to (will have to) design his or her own furniture and also for fairly obvious reasons. Firstly, this will be your creation and (without sounding too theatrical) an extention of yourself. Secondly, this is where aesthetics and function meet. Material strength versus ideal. Reality has a nasty way of reducing a gossamer delicate design on paper into a less flattering but functional piece.

Cameron (15) with his own design coat rack

If this is an unexplored area for you then… then… why then sharpen your pencil and start sketching!

Beautiful panels

Carin refining the details

Woodwork Academy student Carin accepted a commission to carve eight panels for a music school. The motifs were all stylised musically related images.

The finished panels

 A little background needs to be added here to put the whole thing into perspective. Carin has only recently taken up woodworking and was by no means an expert when she started these panels. But two things were decidedly in her favour: enthusiasm and determination. Week after week she would tackle the job at hand and I witnessed her growing confidence and dexterity untill after five weeks the panels were completed. The photos tell the story. Bottom line ?  Doing is learning.