I’m on a lower-back imposed hiatus from working in the shop. (after thinking I felt better, and hewing a Dave Fisher-style bowl for a couple of days – turns out I wasn’t better yet…)
A few times here and on Instagram/FB I have mentioned a drawing project I’ve been picking at for a couple of years. During hands-on classes in carving designs, a question I often got was “Where can I get more patterns to carve?” – and I never had a good, easy answer (until my book Joiner’s Work came out).
The period furniture is found in expensive, usually out-of-print furniture history books, this blog, (un-indexed, randomly place photos of carvings) – and other less-than-ideal places. But one thing I do have is a great example/inspiration from Curtis Buchanan. For years, Curtis has had free videos on his youtube channel, showing how to make his Windsor chairs. And over on his website, measured drawings available for sale, showing all the details for each chair.
and Curtis put me onto Jeff Lefkowitz. In addition to making excellent chairs, Jeff is a drawings/plans wizard. He’s been doing Curtis’ drawings for a while, Tim Manney’s shaving horse plans, Dawson Moore’s Spoon Mule, Pete Galbert’s curved leg stool. Jeff makes everybody look good…
BUT – I don’t use measured drawings! I might carve this design today on stock 5″ wide, and next time on stock 4″ or 7″ etc.
I wrote to Jeff, sent him some sketches, and asked if he’d be willing to try something different. I’m doing the drawings and he’s working on the layout, format, etc. Together we’re working on getting the first set of these drawings in a coherent form that carvers can then adapt and adjust according to their needs at hand. Some of the challenges will be to convey the low-relief carvings in the drawings, but there will be (free) youtube videos accompanying the drawings.
To make them, I approach it just like I do the carvings – centerlines, compass-work, etc – but many (or most) of the shapes are achieved by tracing the gouges themselves – (this one is part of round-two, was working on it yesterday)
There will be some step-by-step outlines, some short sections of text/captions – but mostly full-scale drawings of panels, box fronts, framing members – all meant to be a guide, not a template. The reasons I don’t use templates are principally that’s not how period work was carved. You’d then either need uniform stock from one object to the next, or a host of templates to fit different-sized panels for instance. It’s quicker to learn how to compose the designs. I’ll show you that you don’t need to be artistically-trained or gifted to do these drawings. I think it’s easier to do the carvings than the drawings. Some designs do require some free-hand lines, probably the most frightening leap of faith. I’ve brought students through it in person. That’s where I’ll use the step-by-step outlines to walk you through the difficult parts. Then things like the leaves inside this diamond-shape here are just struck with gouges:
One key is learning what I call the “vocabulary” of these patterns. The first two sets I have planned all stem from oak furniture from Devon, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts. When you study these details, you’ll see various forms repeating and combining lots of ways – thus you’ll be able to fill all kinds of spaces. Here’s a drawing I did before I carved the spandrels around the doors to my shop:
We don’t know how long this part of the process takes, so I have no information for you about availabilty & timing. But you’ll hear about it when I know more. Jeff just got a test-printing yesterday of a sample, so we’ll know what we’re aiming for. Now to work on composing, formatting and figuring out what goes in, what gets tossed.
Lots of links so I put them all down here –