When I built my first stick chair in 2003, I was so happy with the result that I wanted to build that exact same form 100 times or more.
Today – maybe 100 chairs later – I roughed out a seat and contemplated how I could make this chair unlike every other chair I’d made before. So I changed the rake and splay of the legs. A lot. The undercarriage will be new. Ditto the arrangement of the sticks. The armbow will be the same (that’s because I built the arm several weeks ago when I made a run of arms). And I haven’t decided what to do with the crest rail.
Chairmaking has instilled a restlessness in me that I don’t feel when I build casework. When I build a campaign secretary, it always comes out similar to my other campaign secretaries. Sure, there are variations, but it’s not like I feel a burning desire to make a secretary with doodle-nut angles or details I’ve never seen before.
But it’s all I think about when I look at a pile of chair parts. How can I assemble these in a different way that will scratch an itch I have about negative space, an hourglass shape or some hard line/soft line fantasy?
When John Brown built his second Welsh stick chair, he tried to make it come out like his first chair. But it didn’t. Eventually he embraced this aspect of of the chair. No two should be alike. Maybe they come out different because we are human and it’s a hand-tool process. Or maybe there’s something else going on that I can’t put my finger on.
Chris Williams knows what I’m talking about. He preaches it all the time.
It doesn’t look it from the photo, but this chair is going to be a bit weird.
— Christopher Schwarz