When reviewing the literature on vernacular furniture since 1500, here is the writers’ universal observation: There is not much scholarship on this furniture. And that is amazing and disappointing.
As you might know, I am not a scholar. I don’t pretend to be anything more than a guy who likes investigating forgotten forms of furniture, building them and writing about the experience.
So as I started exploring this stuff about five years ago, I allowed myself to take an odd, unscholarly tack.
All of the high styles of furniture from the 18th century were explored in “pattern books” put together by luminaries such as Chippendale, Hepplewhite, the Adams brothers and on and on. There were hundreds of pattern books for furniture and home decor. But none for vernacular furniture.
And that is what “The Furniture of Necessity” sets out to be – a pattern book that transmits the core ideas of furniture that has remained unchanged for the last 500 years.
So, like the pattern books of the 18th century, we need intaglio plates.
One of my close partners with this book is Briony Morrow-Cribbs, an intaglio artist and art professor in Vermont. She is working on the sketches for the plates that will illustrate “The Furniture of Necessity” that will become copperplate etchings for the book.
Today she sent me the sketch for Plate 1, which is the first project in the book (see above). After she finishes work on this sketch it will be photo-etched in a traditional manner to become a plate that can be inked and pressed on paper – just like a traditional 18th-century illustration.
As she starts to etch and ink the plates, we’ll post photos and videos of the process. It’s quite cool.
— Christopher Schwarz