Sunday, September 19, 2010

Scoleosis a la Francaise

Well....what would your back look like after standing up for 200 years plus?! I somehow find this leaning to the right somehow endearing. Who knows what the influences were that caused it to do so. Perhaps too much heat from the hearthfire on one side. Maybe too close to the frosty window for too many years. And then there was uncle Pierre weighing in at nearly 150 kilos even though he'd lost a leg in the Revolution'. A leetle like ze politique, no?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Five Critters and a Pot

Here are the carved backs of the chairs. I felt they deserved a post of their own.

Notice the hand-hewn rough marks left by the tools on the backs of the chairs then compare those rough surfaces to the care that was taken to depict the animals with vitality and humor. Perhaps these chairs were made by the farmer himself since they certainly show a sense on intimacy with what makes a weasel a weasel and a squirrel a squirrel.

The next up -- Some repairs that were made a very long time ago.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Farmer's Tale

Some years ago, a client imported a set of 6 antique Provencal chairs from a Paris fleamarket. They were brought to me for an assessment of what it would take to restore them. Tout alors! They were exquisitely charming little chairs but were in such bad shape that if nudged a bit they could have shimmied across the floor like an articulated skeleton marionette. I don't think there was one tight joint in the bunch. The cost for restoring them as a set was more than anticipated so I was asked if they could be taken apart and a couple of sound chairs be made from the parts and toss the rest. As a set, they told a story. As a couple of random chairs they were just cute. Not wanting to break up the story, I bought them all for the price paid in Paris.

These chairs are VERY old. Professional appraisers have put their age to be certainly early 19th century and quite possibly late 18th. They've been repaired many times, many generations of bugs have feasted on their various parts and the rush seats were tattered and frayed.

There's a classic French country dish called "pot a fue". The literal translation is "pot on the fire". It's made from whatever small animals a country farmer might find on his morning hunt or out tending his fields. The critters are layered in the pot then cooked for many, many hours over a fire. I've had the dish before and it is absolutely delicious! Five of the backs of these chairs have a hand carving of one of these field critters. A chicken, dove, weasel, beaver and a squirrel are each wonderfully rendered. The sixth chair...(drum roll, please)...has the pot to cook 'em in.

I have finally started the restoration. It's a journey of discovery as I figure out how to dismantle, repair, replace and restore without disrupting the story line. I shall keep you posted on my process and progress.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jewel-like tools

The Biedermeier style computer cabinet on my web page has several secret compartments hidden throughout. Some are accessed by removing panels, removing drawers or reaching into cavities to find them. There is one secret compartment, however, that requires a tool for access. During the construction I used an awl I'd ground down to a rounded tip. The tool is inserted into a hole in the side of a drawer space to depress a wooden spring which holds the secret compartment in place, a classic method for such things. I couldn't see a moldy old awl sitting in a drawer of this elegant piece so I fashioned a tool out of brass rod, ebony and a detail glue-up from a previous project. I always keep a stash of these odds and ends knowing I'll find a use for them someday.
Another tool was needed to prize out the rubber fitting holding the recessed halogen down light in the cabinet's central niche. I'd been using a bent tapered tool from a set of small such tools used by auto interior shops. Same moldy old tool scenario with the same solution.
The presentation box is coco bola with a mastodon ivory turn catch.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Corner Cabinet

This is a cabinet for a flat screen TV, made of ebonized African mahogany and Southeast Asian satinwood. Since it's a corner cabinet, the drawers are wedge-shaped and pivot open from the outside edge.

The large doors open up and then recess into the cabinet on flipper door hardware slides. No existing hardware that I know of is designed to do this for a corner cabinet so I modified existing Euro-hinges to work with the flipper door slides.