This & That and There Be Cats

Manicules or indexes.

Here are a few images that have been sitting in the “misfits and miscellaneous” drawer of my digital files.

Dog bone lifts are perfectly fine, but why not take a hint from a sailor’s sea chest and liven up the lifts on your tool chest? Fashion the cleat in the form of a lady’s hand, carve symbols on the cleat and add a knotted becket. Quaffing a tot of rum is optional.

Constantin Brancusi.

Constantin Brancusi returned to using wood for his sculptures in the mid-1910s when he was in his mid-to-late thirties. He salvaged huge oak beams from demolition companies in Paris. I happen to like Brancusi, but I sure some woodworkers look at the photo and think “that could have been used for workbenches!”.

‘Bottega di mio padre’ by Bruno da Osimo, 1937,

Bruno da Osimo paid tribute to his father, a carpenter, with this xylograph of his father’s shop.

Raffaele da Brescia, 1507, Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Siena, Italy.

This detail is from a Choir’s desk and is a masterpiece of marquetry work. An imperious tabby cat is framed by columns lined up like soldiers and an archway that recalls the sun. The artist did not forget the cat’s whiskers, a most important detail.

From ‘The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents’ by Edward Topsel, 1658. From Duke University Libraries on Internet Archive

Topsel (or Topsell) used woodblock illustrations from earlier works by Swiss physician Konrad Gesner. The book repeats many fanciful ideas about cats and other animals, but I think the figure of the cat is spot on. And this phrase, “The tongue of a Cat is very attractive and forcible like a file…” is certainly true.

Photo by Stephani Diani, New York Times, 8 July 2017.

Lynn Ahrens pointed out this folk art cat as one of her favorite things in her New York apartment. The reason: it reminded her of her late cat Alfie. I can sympathize with her as I am currently cat-less. Cat figures are fairly common in folk art collections and they always bring a smile. The head may be too big or the tail inordinately long, but they are all unmistakably cats.

Now for something that is just wrong, wrong, wrong. While researching information on Biedermeier chairs this popped up.

Chair socks.

Do you have a problem with your chairs scratching the floor or making too much noise? Put some chair socks on them! You can choose from five patterns and be matchy-matchy with your cat. Is this a portent of the coming apocalypse?

Suzanne Ellison

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17 Responses to This & That and There Be Cats

  1. jbakerrower says:

    I have GOT to get me some kittenmittens!


  2. Lee Hockman says:

    So, those flying finger-pointing-hands in the Yellow Submarine movie were actually Flying Manicules? Amazing!


  3. Ken says:

    I bet a lot of woodworkers would enjoy knitting if they gave it a try.


  4. jenohdit says:

    Brancusi’s roots in a Romania log home may be interesting to woodworkers who might not think they are fans of early modern sculpture. They definitely show in his later work.

    There is an image of some staked furniture at the first link and more can be found petty easily. Good pictures of the front gate here


    • bluefairywren says:

      Thanks for those links. I’m a huge fan of Brancusi. The memorial house is pretty much what my childhood dream home looked like. Come to think of it, it’s still what my dream home looks like.


  5. Bruce Lee says:

    If no one has mentioned it to you, St. Thomas Guild blog is doing a series on woodworking tools in (obscure) Italian frescoes, using photos they took on their holidays.


  6. william truitt says:

    if you like really fancy veneer/marquetry/intarsia work I suggest you look up the Gubbio Sudiolo work now preserved/restored and on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. It is well worth seeing in person!!!


    • saucyindexer says:

      Thanks! I have seen some examples in Italy (and pietra dura), but not what the Met has to offer. I’m overdue a trip to NYC.


  7. Maurice says:

    Bravo votre tâche est difficile et vous la menez à bien, j’aimerais bien visiter “misfits and miscellaneous” drawer, il doit y avoir des trésors. Les images sont toujours (pour moi!) captivantes. Celle qui m’a donné le plus à “ronger“ est celle faite par Hans Burkmaier: le roi blanc apprend la charpente !


  8. bluefairywren says:

    All marquetry should include cats!


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