Hey, wanna see a guy flush several hundreds of dollars and two days of work down the toilet? Read on.
During the last week I’ve been preparing the stock for a week-long class on building a simple stick chair – it’s my first chairmaking course (cue the Depends commercial music). Last week, I bought some ash slabs and have been breaking them down bit by bit to get the right curves for the crest rails, armbows and doublers. And I’ve been trying like heck to squeeze out single-board seats for all the students.
As I started band sawing the seats this morning, I immediately got a sinking feeling. Sections of the boards were cutting like styrofoam. This tree had been on the ground and had some punky patches.
I managed to salvage most of the seats, but there’s no way I’m giving these to students. You don’t want your first chair (or last one) to split apart on the bench. I’m going to have some words with the people at the slab yard. There’s no time to argue with them about this issue right now, so I’m headed to Indiana in the morning to drop several hundred dollars on some new seat material at a different yard.
When this sort of week-altering disaster strikes, I usually switch gears. I go home and do some writing and editing. And some cooking and listening to music.
When I got home today I found a long-awaited package – “Scottish Vernacular Furniture” (Thames & Hudson) by Bernard D. Cotton. This book saved my whole day. It’s a gorgeous full-color work and filled with a wide variety of beautiful items, including stick chairs.
These chairs don’t thrill me like the Welsh varieties, but there are some great examples.
“Scottish Vernacular Furniture” is completely different than Cotton’s other famous book, “The English Regional Chair.” That massive book is like a field guide to spotting chairs and their tiny differences in the wild. While there’s some great information in the book – especially about construction techniques – the chairs themselves do little to inspire me.
“Scottish Vernacular Furniture” is delightful. I imagine I’ll read most of it tonight, as well as complete my editing of Peter Follansbee’s new book.
And then tomorrow I’ll head to the lumberyard – right after selling some plasma.
— Christopher Schwarz