John Brown’s Last Chair

I made a chair sometime back that will be documented in the chair build section of my forthcoming book, “The Life & Work of John Brown.” Apart from my use of a battery-powered drill, it is pretty true to how I was taught by John Brown. I have kept this chair for the sometime, but alas it has found a fine new home close to where I live.

The hunt was on for a suitable location to photograph it for the book. Heather Birnie, the photographer, and I visited a few properties and settled on a wonderful local Welsh farmhouse. The owners already own two of my chairs and were happy to help. They also run a gin distillery at the farm, Jin Talog. I also had a trump card up my sleeve. I had been offered to borrow what is reputed to be the last chair that John Brown ever made.

This made the day a special one, as I hadn’t seen that chair since 2002. The scalloping of the comb had a memorable story behind it as we both had an adventure a year earlier where we got to see an 18th-century Welsh stick chair chair with a similar detail. JB was inspired to replicate the detail in his own way. John Brown had strangely forgotten to chamfer the ends of the legs – one had chipped whilst dragged across the floor. It was a quick fix, and I gave it a coat of wax polish. It’s a fine chair that sits well and comfortable. I felt honoured to spend a few days with his last ever chair.

— Christopher Williams

Note: These are just snapshots. Heather’s beautiful photos are still being processed.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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3 Responses to John Brown’s Last Chair

  1. nrhiller says:

    Another book I’m eagerly looking forward to reading, as much for the parts about John Brown as for the chairs. That label is striking, and the photography location sounds lovely. Really enjoying all of the chair posts by you, Kieran, Chris S., and Brendan.

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  2. Klaus N. Skrudland says:

    I’m very much looking forward to this book – to be learning more about who John Brown was. I’ve read Welsh Stick Chairs numerous times and I love how his personality shines through. Apart from the amazing photo where he’s holding the mallet high over his head ready to whack a chair leg into it’s mortise, my favourite part of the book is probably when he writes about putting his personal mark on his chairs: “Ah, man’s vanity! This is the signature I put on all my work. I did it. Well, I did part of it. I have a partner – the Great Chairmaker – so I put a cross, as we Celtic people see it. ”

    I’m not quite sure why, but that passage always made me think he’s an interesting character and someone I’d like to know better.

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  3. Niels Cosman says:

    Dat comb tho!

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