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Shade, Pies, and Furniture

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Growing up in my part of Texas, I was sure that every backyard hard at least one giant pecan tree, supplying both food for delicious pies and some very much-needed summer shade.

When I started milling local lumber for use in making furniture, I felt closer to the things I made and to the planet I live on. Lucky for me that these awesome huge pecan trees make wonderful hardwood that looks great and can be adapted to so many periods and styles of furniture.

These two pieces are both from pecan.Queen Anne twin bed with Flame finial headboard and trifid feet.

The first is a child’s twin bed with turned head posts and flame carved finials. Queen Anne twin bed - pecan with flame finial headboard and trifid feet- foot detail

At the foot of the bed, you will find the three-lobed, carved trifid feet.


The other half of this ‘set’ is a Queen Anne 5-drawer chest with a scalloped top. Also made from pecan, with the additional use of maple in the dovetailed drawers.2011-09-10 12.05.10

A Place for Coffee

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Small red Oak, 2 drawer chest on frame with turned cabriole legs.  The request was for a small coffee bar that didn't look like office furniture.

Small red Oak, 2 drawer chest on frame with turned cabriole legs. The request was for a small coffee bar that didn’t look like office furniture.

This is something that came along pretty early for me.  I had a request for a piece of office furniture, “someplace for my coffee and things”, that didn’t look like office furniture.

So this is a Queen Anne-style chest on frame.  A sideboard of sorts, coming in at about 32 inches wide and under 16 inches deep.

Dark stained red oak with maple dovetailed drawers. The two drawers provided enough space to hold the necessary paraphernalia to become properly caffeinated and the size was a perfect fit in the office setting.

This was the first of many of these adaptations of another style to fit a particular purpose or space.

A Texas Roundabout

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So, a while ago, …in storyteller’s terms we are talking about something greater than a dozen years back, here in this part of Texas we had a terrible rainstorm that we like to call a flash flood. This is also an indication of how long ago it was, since I now have grown children who are familiar with the concept of rain only through watching the Weather Channel on cable TV.   

Anyway, as I was saying,             …a while ago, after this particularly bad rainstorm, I got a call from a relative who asked for help removing a fallen tree. What I found was three fairly large mesquite trees that had grown up together at their bases and were let loose and turned out on the ground, each on it’s own path away from the others by the supersaturated earth below during this rainy period. Being the opportunist that I am, I went right out (two weeks later) and got myself a chainsaw mill and began my foray into milling my own hardwood.

Oh, I had so much fun that day. Sweating, cussing, wondering why the cutting chains had to be sharpened after every 12 feet of mesquite, wondering why I decided that was a good idea at all. But, when all was said and done, I had far more beautiful hardwood than I could have imagined. Today, after making milling timber a part of my woodworking, you might find some wood from the local mill in my shop, but  you’re more likely to run into local hardwoods that have stories behind them, “Well 

 

you see, there was this tree…”




I have always loved roundabout chairs. (That’s what this post is really about.)

Texas Roundabout

Texas Roundabout

The corner chair on the right  was  made with Texas mesquite hardwood milled by me and is one of a group I made from those trees milled on that first day, one of which went to our local PBS affiliate for their auction. This one is similar to a Norm Vandal design that I thought worked for  the mesquite and leather  in a way that I felt wouldn’t be the case with a design like the roundabout in the Boston MFA. This chair is kind of a middle of the road choice between the Boston chair and another in the Brooklyn Museum in that this has a little bit of a ‘Texas Chippendale’ feel because of the three turned legs to the side and rear and the single cabriole leg in front and the curved seat rails.

These chairs were a lot of fun to make. We’ll just have to see if I will make the same design again, or go for something completely different.  I do know that there are some boards out there that look like they want to be a chair…only time will tell.

Paul

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September 11…


Nothing about furniture or woodworking today...




This day will be filled with images of somber faces remembering where they were, who they lost and what was taken from them.  A physical monument will open at the site of the World Trade Center with nearly 3000 names inscribed on the fountain walls of those whose  lives were lost to the cowardly attack.  What remains is for us to truly memorialize their  sacrifice, not just with lofty speeches, but with our deeds and who we become as a nation.
What angers me every year during this time is the parade of politicians who line up to lay claim to the memory, sacrifice and grief of that day’s loss for their own political purposes. This day does not belong to a politician. The site, the memory, the tragedy, and the grief don’t belong to a reelection campaign, or a political party. So, when the orators’ speeches turn to first-person accomplishments at the memorial dedication, I ask you all to remember that the real accomplishments were made by those whose names are on the monuments around these two pools and on another sacrifice in a field in Pennsylvania.

Please join me in taking a moment to remember two special groups of people that make me feel good to be alive, make me proud to be American, and give me hope for our way of life…

The 343 brave souls of the FDNY that gave their lives in the World Trade 

Center towers, many reaching as high as the 78th floor, performing their jobs and  putting out fires as they sought to reach and rescue as many people in the towers as they could.

We have come to dedicate…a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow, this ground — The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; 

Abraham Lincoln 
The Passengers

Christian AdamsTodd BeamerAlan BeavenMark BinghamDeora BodleyMarion BrittonThomas E. Burnett Jr.Willam CashmanGeorgine Rose CorriganPatricia CushingJoseph DeLucaPatrick “Joe” DriscollEdward Porter FeltJane Folger
Colleen L. FraserAndrew GarciaJeremy GlickLauren GrandcolasDonald F. GreeneLinda GronlundRichard GuadagnoToshiya KugeHilda MarcinWaleska MartinezNicole MillerLouis J. Nacke IIDonald and Jean PetersonMark “Mickey” RothenbergChristine SnyderJohn TalignaniHonor Elizabeth WainioKristin Gould White







The heroic passengers and crew of Flight 93 who chose to fight back and stand proud, giving their own lives rather than let terrorism gain another victory on that terrible day should be an inspiration to us all.
They are patriots in this country’s truest, most historic sense…

 

 

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

                 Thomas Paine    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


This day will come and go for most of us. The families of these heroes,  those who lost more than just a sense of infallibility will relive some of the pain of that day ten years ago. Let’s do them the honor of spending a few moments remembering what they gave up for us.

Introduction – Idle Hands

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A recent injury due to a mix of gravity and my inability to fly has me thinking about things I would rather be doing…
While the scars heal and sutured tendons strengthen, this process of months of rehab requires that I stay away from lifting anything and leaves me with idle hands and the need to create something.  (does a blog count?)
I am, among other things, a furniture maker and American History ‘geek’.  I reproduce and adapt furniture pieces from the American past, using locally sourced hardwood with designs adapted, when necessary, to fit today’s homes, lifestyles, or “that little spot next to the door”.
To my mind, the most amazing furniture was designed and made during America’s past, especially during the 18th and early 19th century. From the dawn of the 18th century with William and Mary, then the graceful curves of Queen Anne, straight through the next 100 years to the Shakers, these are the designs that ‘swirl around’ in my head anytime someone asks, “Can you make me a ____ that will fit here?”
I have a love affair with every piece I create. I know every curve and the fit of every mating surface. When it leaves my little space, I hope that it lives on long beyond me and does honor not only to my name upon it, but to the tree that it once was.  
…and yet, here I sit. …healing …waiting.          …and I need to make something.