Every time I do a show or event, someone asks me what I like to make the most or if there’s something I’ve always wanted to make but haven’t. Having spent the last few weeks working on ideas for the 2011 class schedule for the Acanthus Workshop got me thinking even more about the projects I’ve always wanted to tackle.
The picture at the lead of this post is of a desk from a friend’s collection. I first saw this piece when I was about nineteen years old and loved it. It’s not your typical Queen Anne or Chippendale desk with their feminine proportions and decoration. This is a manly desk. Fortunately for me, after about twenty years of lust, I took the opportunity to copy the piece.
For me it was sheer pleasure to build the desk. I had studied it in depth for so many years but, once I started building, I realized I had never trully seen it before. The craftsman who made the original worked only with hand tools because that’s all they had in the late 1600’s. I’ve seen thousands of antiques close up over the years. It never ceases to amaze me just how truly talented those early craftsmen were.
Another piece that I always wanted to make for myself was a pie crust table. Actually, I’ve built several of them over the years. I just haven’t managed to keep one. The original I wanted to copy was in the collection of George Kaufman. It was part of the exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC quite some years ago. It’s not quite a table, more of a stand really. The original was made in mahogany in Philadelphia in the third quarter of the 18th Century. The ones I’ve made for myself (which have all found their way into customers’ homes) have all been in tiger maple. There’s something about that wood that just jumps out at you and grabs you by the throat.
Now you’re probably wondering why I haven’t talked about pieces I’ve wanted to build but haven’t. That is the premise of the post after all, isn’t it? Well, you’re right and I do have a few pieces I’ll share in a future post.
I’ve sent out emails to some of my woodworking friends to get their “ultimate” piece they’d like to build. As the responses come in, I’ll update things here on the blog. If you’re so inclined, post a description of your “dream” piece in the comments and send me an email with the picture. I’ll do my best to post them for you on the blog.
The first craftsman I asked about his “dream piece” was Glen Huey. I was surprised at the piece he chose. Knowing Glen as long as I have, I know his affinity for figured maple so I naturally assumed he would pick a piece that would showcase some strong curl. All the furniture I’ve seen that he’s made, including much of the furniture in his home, is a bit less formal. It’s exceptionally well proportioned and extremely well made but he never struck me as a “high style” kind of guy. Glen’s bucket list piece is one of the highest style pieces ever made in America: a bombe secretary (photo courtesy of C.L. Prickett Antiques). I hope someday he takes the time to make this piece. I, for one, would love to see where he goes with a piece like this. I have no doubt it will be done to the same standards which I have come to know and admire.
I’ll give you one hint about my bucket list pieces, most of the things I want to make out of wood aren’t pieces of furniture.
When you get into your shop, take a moment and think about that ultimate piece. What do you want to build that will put your skills to the test and make you reach beyond what you think are your limits? Stay tuned for other craftsmen’s dream pieces.