Just as Chris was taking his first class in years, I went AWOL to accompany my wife on one of life’s greatest adventures, the early arrival of our second son. In the meantime, as many of you noticed, the web site experienced some glitches. Our forum, still in beta stage, crashed twice. Some readers notified us that they were temporarily locked out of their LAP accounts. Others reported problems posting comments using the WordPress function within posts.
Please accept my apology for these inconveniences, as well as my sincerest thanks to all readers for your patience and understanding. While these outages were not limited to our website (Muut and WordPress have been reporting system-wide outages), I do wish that I had been able to communicate better during these problems.
In related news, I am still working with Muut to hammer out some of the bare-bones issues revealed by the forum’s beta release. The areas I’m addressing with them include GUI, user experience, and login/logout issues. If you have additional concerns or suggestions about the test forum, please send them my way.
As a result of these glitches, we are delaying the full forum launch until October. Thank you for your patience. I will do my best to ensure that the result is worth the extra wait!
— Brian Clites
Addendum 9/10/15: A number of users have reported frustration when trying to login to the forum for the first time. Please note that the forum login should be the same username and password that you use to place orders within the LAP store. (Your LAP store credentials are not the same as the WordPress/Facebook credentials that you are prompted to enter for posting blog comments below.) If you have experienced a problem, please ensure you have created LAP store credentials at: http://lostartpress.com/account/register. If you still experience problems, please email me. firstname.lastname@example.org
When I work on a complex design, such as this simple chair, I find the best way to modify the design is to take photos of the project from all angles, even awkward ones. Then I print them out and start sketching on them.
This process saves me hours of prototyping. In this case, I’m working on the crest rail of the chair, mostly the angle that is cut on the ends and its overall length.
For me, this is easier than modeling complex pieces in CAD. I know it looks primitive, but it works surprisingly well.
“Helped by the increasing use of machinery, which made short work of complicated curves and serpentines, (Edward Barnsley’s) work became the last word in cabinetmaking skills, surpassing that of any previous century, and it found a ready appreciation amongst a growing clientele and an interested public.
“Only time will tell if this switch in emphasis in mid-stream was a step forwards or backwards.”
— Alan Peters, “Cabinetmaking: The Professional Approach, 2nd Edition” (Linden, 2009)
Imagine it is late spring in 1898 and you are a 29-year-old Moravian-born priest traveling with a tribe of bedouins to a desolate spot to look at some wall paintings in an abandoned building. You walk in and see colorful frescoes covering the walls and ceilings. In astonishment you see a whirl of dancing girls, hunting scenes, musicians and more. After 40 minutes you have to rush out and dash off because an enemy tribe is approaching. When you return to Vienna to present your findings no one believes you. The few photos you took are lost. The painted scenes you saw don’t fit with their timelines or their ideas, you have no proof, you must be a liar.
The traveler was Alois Musil, known as Musa Rweili to his bedouin friends. He returned the following year and several years after that to document the bath house, the sole remaining structure of the desert citadel known as Qusayr’Amra. Built in 723-743 and located in present-day Jordan, Qusayr’Amra was one of 18 desert citadels built during the Umayyad period. The bath house is built in the Roman style (this region was previously in the Roman Empire) with a hydraulic water supply, a triple-vaulted caldarium and unique floor-to-ceiling frescoes.
And what frescoes! To put it mildly there are girls, girls and partially clothed girls. And in between there are hunting scenes, flora, cavorting fauna and on one vaulted ceiling 32 panels of carpenters, masons and blacksmiths.
Other surviving citadels had hunting scenes, but no girls, and certainly no display of working craftsmen. But if you think about it, why not? While your guests soak in the warm waters of the caldarium surrounded by these fantastic paintings you are impressing them with your power and wealth. Including the panels of craftsmen may seem an anomaly but is another indication of material wealth and resources. The citadel and bath works were built and decorated with the skills of a small army of carpenters, masons, blacksmiths and artists. Thanks to this 8th-century showmanship, and the persistence of Alois Musil, we have more pieces to add to the woodworking record.
The panels with the sawyers and the worker on the bench are the only woodworking panels still intact enough to discern details (likely due to their locations away from water leaks). Both panels have had some restoration work. The Roman workbench detail from Pompeii (dated about 660 years earlier) is included for comparison. The craftsmen panels don’t show any innovations in tools or techniques, rather a continuation of Roman-era traditions.
The frescoes have sustained damage from almost 1,300 years of exposure to weather, water leaks, camp fires, vandalism and unfortunate efforts at conservation. Musil, accompanied by artist Alphons Leopold Mielich, attempted to treat some the wall frescoes with chemicals causing pigments to fragment and fall off. While attempting to remove sections for transport to Vienna, other portions of frescoes were destroyed. The few sections that did make it to Europe are in museums in Vienna and Berlin. Qusayr’Amra was designated a UNESCO site in 1985 and current conservation efforts are under the direction of the World Monuments Fund.
In 1909 drawings made by Mielich were published in a two-volume folio and included reconstructions of the larger frescoes. The New York Public Library has one volume of the folio and a digital copy is available on line under the title Kusejr’Amra. I was able to match a few of the 1909-era drawings with more recent photographs.