Though I’ve been happily married for 25 years, I’ve had a number of intense love affairs – the kind that make you want to write bad poetry and buy good lumber. These affairs are, of course, with pieces of furniture I’ve encountered through the years. And while the opening sentence above might seem a joke, it’s actually not.
When I get fixated on a piece of furniture, I daydream about it. As I drift off to sleep I think of its curves. When I drink my morning coffee I ponder its construction. During the day I build the piece in my head over and over. The only way to stop my obsession is to consummate the relationship by building the piece.
On Friday I visited St Fagans National Museum of History and met my latest dalliance – Chair 024, a three-stick chair in one of the public spaces in the museum. I won’t write a poem about the chair – I’ll leave the poetry duties to other bloggers. But I will share what attracts me to this form, and I will also apologize in advance because I’m likely to write quite a bit more about it in the future.
First is the overall form. The chair has an armbow with a somewhat shallow curve, a bit like the low-back Cardiganshire chairs I discussed earlier. Yet it has a charming (and unusual) three-stick back with a simple and compact crest rail.
Second is the seat shape. I’ve not encountered a seat in this shape before and don’t have a name for it. I love how the seat reflects the shape of the arm above and that the seat has extensions at each end that mimic the round hands of the armbow.
I love the beefy sticks. In North America, we tend to prefer thin and tapered sticks, which can lighten the look of a chair dramatically. This chair will have none of that. The sticks verge on 3/4” in diameter and have little or no taper to them.
I adore the hexagonal legs. I’ve been itching to make hexagonal legs because that shape is more common in the historical record than octagonal legs. I’ll write more about hexagons and how they were likely made in a future blog entry.
Finally, I like the compact size of the chair. It’s not terribly wide or deep, and that characteristic has always been attractive to my eye.
I know that some (many?) of you might fail to see the beauty of this chair. You might even find it ugly, and that’s OK. Girls in my high school thought the same of me. It took only one woman – blinded by love, I suppose – to make me happy for the rest of my life. Except when we visit museums, and my wandering eye finds a shapely oaken leg….
— Christopher Schwarz