Friday, January 9, 2009

Owl Father and the Flying Buttress


There are mixed inspirations and mixed associations for this writing desk and seat pair.

First, the name of the two are, yet again, bad (very bad) puns.
The writing desk is named "Owl Father" as in "Owl Father who art made of hardwood and hollowed be inside....".

The seat is called the Flying Buttress - there is a silent "T" added to the end.

The writing desk was inspired by my wanting to make even more sculptural wing shapes than on some of my earlier pieces. I really wanted to capture the up swept wing tip of a soaring bird. I wanted to portray the balancing on air and the minute control that birds have that allow them to remain in the air without flapping for hours.

The wings were glued up from thick staves of ash and then milled and carved to shape.

It was only as I was shaping the "body" of the bird that I realized I had created the look of an owl. In the long hours of shaping and smoothing my mind had far too much time to come up with the name.

The body of the desk has a small storage space - large enough for a pad of paper and some pens on top. The flap is held in place by embedded rare earth magnets.

The designfor the seat was inspired by a visit to Copenhagen in 2005. While I was there I visited the Danish Design Centre. One of the exhibits showed innovative street furniture. There were two things that really stuck me. The first was a series of large "braille" castings that are embedded in the sidewalk to warn blind people using a stick of impending hazards and kerbs.

The other was a shaped rail that acts as seats at bus stops. The rail is designed to fit just under the sit bones and allow you to take some of the weight off your feet but keeps your back straight. The Flying Buttress steals and uses that idea - but it must be said that you need to have pretty long legs to sit comfortably (33-34" inseam)

The paired desk and seat leave feeling like you're riding on the back of a bird (a red tailed hawk in this case). It also hints at characters from the novels of JK Rowling and Terry Pratchett. I've thought of this as the "Buggy Swires Desk" for some time.

I'll update the posting with dimensions.

Winged Lectern


The Winged Lectern is the best piece I have made.

The Amperstand and it's winged cousins can be used as lecterns but they are a little low for really comfortable use. This lectern is both taller and more tilted with a stop to hold the book or folder securely in place. The front of the piece (facing the audience) is more sculpted than prior pieces - I think there is a subtle hint of and eagle in the shaping.

I gave this the Winged Lectern to Fort Worden and Centrum to an inspiration to the new partnerships and the need to rise to the challenge of creating a new gathering place for creative souls of all flavours.

The Music Stand



A simpler and lighter version of Winged Music Stand.

The top of the music stand moves up and down on a curved stem. The height varies about 300mm (12"). There are stops every 8mm (3/8"). A stainless steel, delrin tipped plunger allows simple height adjustment. The top tilts from nearly horizontal to 80°. The tray is 65mm (2 1/2") wide - enough to hold a binder full of music. It will hold sheet music open at three folds. The angle of the top is adjusted by loosening and tightening the hinge bolts with an allen key. The allen key can be stored under the tray on two embedded rare earth magnets.

Dimensions:
Maximum Height: 1290mm (51")
Minimum Height: 1070mm (42")
Width: 610mm (24")
Depth: 385mm (15")
Materials:
Ash and Cherry with Walnut inlay
Finish:

Hand rubbed oil / varnish mixture to 600 grit

Winged Music Stand


Port Townsend has a large community of violin and cello bow makers. Chris Dickson, a former student of Charles Espey, dropped by my shop and we had a long conversation about design. Chris inspired me to rework the Amperstand design to a music stand.

The Winged Music stand varies enough in height for use by seated or standing musicians.

The top of the music stand moves up and down on a curved stem. The height varies about 300mm (12"). There are stops every 8mm (3/8"). A stainless steel, delrin tipped plunger allow simple height adjustment. The top tilts from nearly horizontal to 80°. The tray is 65mm (2 1/2") wide - enough to hold a binder full or music. It will hold sheet music open at three folds. The angle of the top is adjusted by loosening and tightening the hinge bolts with an allen key. The allen key can be stored under the tray on two embedded rare earth magnets.

Dimensions:
Maximum Height: 1290mm (51")
Minimum Height: 1070mm (42")
Width: 930mm (36.5")
Depth: 460mm (18.5")
Materials:
Ash and Cherry with Walnut inlay
Finish:

Hand rubbed oil / varnish mixture to 600 grit

The Batstand


An alternative for the Amperstand inspired another bad name!. Each panel is made of 16 alternating cherry and ash staves; the staves are matched on each side of colour and grain. The scalloping around the top is loosely based on the wing of a bat. The Batstand can be used as dictionary stand, lectern or as a conductor's music stand. The top, though gently curved, holds and supports a book well. A good place to keep your current favourite graphic novel.

The base of the Batstand is made of eight double tapered steam bent Ash laminae. The stem and spine of the top are made of cherry. The legs are also bent laminations. There is walnut inlay around the vee tenon on the base.

Dimensions:
Height: 1290mm (51")
Width: 930mm (36.5")
Depth: 460mm (18")
Materials:
Ash and Cherry with Walnut inlay
Finish:
Hand rubbed oil / varnish mixture to 600 grit

Winged Amperstand


The Winged Amperstand can be used as dictionary stand, lectern or as a conductor's music stand. The top, though gently curved, holds and supports a book well. A good place to keep your copy of Sibley handy.

The base of the Winged Amperstand is made of eight double tapered steam bent Ash laminae. The stem and spine of the top are made of cherry. The legs are also bent laminations. There is walnut inlay around the vee tenon on the base

I replaced the flat panels on the Amperstand with coopered Ash panels. Each panel is made of 16 ash staves; the staves are matched on each side of colour and grain. The ends of staves have been shaped by hand as stylized feathers. I have in my mind a Red-Tailed Hawk when I select the staves.

There are eight double tapered, concentrically steam bent laminae in the base. Lynette Breton pointed me in the direction of the early work of Jere Osgood on double tapered lamination. Thanks Lynette and Jere!

Dimensions:
Height: 1290mm (51")
Width: 930mm (36.5")
Depth: 460mm (18")
Materials:
Ash and Cherry with Walnut inlay
Finish:
Hand rubbed oil / varnish mixture to 600 grit

The Amperstand



The original Amperstand was designed a dictionary stand for my wife, Teresa, who is an editor and needed a place to keep her Webster's Second Edition handy. The slope of the top is enough to make a book easier to read but still low enough for friction to keep the book in place.

The design of Amperstand was inspired by the sight of swans on the river by our house in Massachusetts. The base of the Amperstand is made of eight double tapered steam bent Ash laminae. The stem and spine of the top are made of cherry. The top is a pair of bookmatched Ash panels. The legs are also bent laminations. There is walnut inlay around the vee tenon on the base.

How the Amperstand got its name:

The name Amperstand came from my love of bad puns and wilful abuse of English Language.

Take a close look at the printer's symbol for and (it's hovering above the 7 key there on your keyboard). That symbol is called the Ampersand:
&

In left profile the Amperstand looks just like an Ampersand. I couldn't resist sticking a T in there.



See this history of the Ampersand on Wikipedia

Dimensions:
Height: 1080mm (41")
Width: 610mm (24")
Depth: 385mm (15")
Materials:
Ash and Cherry with Walnut inlay
Finish:

Hand rubbed oil / varnish mixture to 600 grit

Thursday, January 1, 2009

About Me

I live and work in Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, USA. I make sculptural fine furniture using a mixture of traditional and new techniques. I try hard to minimize the environmental impact of my work. I have chosen to use North American Ash and Cherry (which I buy sustainably sourced when available). I, also, choose not to work in tropical or other exotic hardwoods as I believe that they cannot be sustainably harvested or harvested without significant environmental damage.

I am a co-founder of the Port Townsend School of Woodworking with Jim Tolpin and John Marckworth. The school started classes in Fall 2007. Check the website for our full range of classes for the beginner to advanced woodworker.

Artist's Statement:
I draw my inspiration from winged creatures. The flick of a raised wing, the curve of a swan's breast and the open wings of a resting butterfly may all be seen in my work. I blend these graceful and powerful curves into elegant, functional, fine furniture. I use and celebrate the natural diversity of line and colour in the grain of North American hardwoods.

Furniture Making Education:

Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, Rockport, Maine in 2001. With support from the Teresa Lawson Woodworking Fellowship.

Juried Shows
The "Amperstand" - First Annual Alumni Show, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, June 25-August 27, 2004. Jurors: Bebe Johnson, Pritam and Eames Gallery, Easthampton NY and John Lavine, editor of "Woodwork" magazine
.The (new) "Amperstand" - Merit Award, Art Port Townsend, Northwind Gallery, Port Townsend, October 2006. Juror: Susan Parke, Curator, Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, WA
"Winged Music Stand" - Cascadia: Studio Furniture from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska, Maltwood Museum University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. June 15th - August 20th 2007.

Galleries:
You may have seen my work in the following galleries:

Salt Spring Woodworks - 125 Church Road, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

Northwest Fine Woodworking - 101 S. Jackson St, Seattle, Washington 98104, USA

Shows:

Port Townsend Woodworker's Show 2006 - 2008

Publications:
Woodworker West, January - February 2007
Woodwork (106), August 2007
Affiliations:
The Furniture Society
The Splintergroup -- organizers of the Port Townsend Woodworker's Show

First Commission:

Building a replacement tailskid for a 1909 Bleriot Monoplane