One of the biggest fears when you work for yourself is that the work will dry up. You will suddenly go from eating ricotta to ramen. And then you will call Mike Siemsen to get his recipe for “wiener water soup.”
As the last few days of 2017 drop off the calendar, I’m taking stock of the commission work I have booked for the coming year. I am pleasantly surprised at the amount of work I have in the works.
Most of the pieces are what you would expect: a couple Welsh chairs, a tool chest, a Shaker cabinet, some sawbenches, a Roorkee chair and a campaign secretary. But I also received a commission that is a gift for me as a designer.
A young customer asked me to build a chair that would further my work from “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” For the last 12 months I’ve struggled (and failed) to design a staked armchair that I’m happy with for the revised edition of “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” This commission will allow me to take a good three weeks of time to nail down a design that has remained slightly out of my grasp.
So it’s also a gift for anyone interested in staked furniture.
I know there will be lean years ahead. It’s the natural cycle of things. But I plan to fully enjoy every bit of 2018 and make the most of the salad days.
— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com
Silkroad traveler Suzanne Ellison spent some time on the Dark Web yesterday, digging up images of famous people sitting in Roorkee chairs. Even I was surprised at what she found.
— Christopher Schwarz
The leather arms of Roorkee chairs will sag if you use only one layer of leather. Historical Roorkees tended to use only one layer, so I’ve seen a lot of low-slung arms.
If you don’t want your arms to sag, there are several solutions. A quick solution is to glue a strip of polyester to the underside of each arm, which will prevent the arms from stretching. This works, but the polyester can show and can be ugly.
I prefer to double up the thickness of the leather to prevent stretching. To do this, you need to glue and stitch the two layers together. While I’ve stitched some leather seats for folding stools, I haven’t been brave enough to do the arms of a Roorkee, especially one that will go to a client.
(I am almost over this timidity, however.)
This fall I made a matching pair of Roorkees for a client and also worked with Popular Woodworking Magazine to produce a DVD on the construction process I used for the chairs. You can pre-order the DVD here. Or buy the download here.
To get the arms of these chairs just right, I hired Jason Thigpen of Texas Heritage Woodworkers to glue and stitch the arms for me. He did a fantastic job. That shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve seen his shop aprons or tool rolls. He does all the work in-house and is both a maker and a user – my kind of guy.
Today Jason posted a great blog entry on the tools and processes he used to stitch the Roorkee arms, with text, photos and a video. Check out the entry here. And if you need a tool roll, shop apron and/or leather-clad coffee mug, Jason is your guy.
— Christopher Schwarz