Chairs on the brain

One of JA’s last chairs

 I spent a lot of time wtih Brendan Gaffney while I was at Lost Art Press last week, and chairs were our main subject. He’s gone bananas over Alexander’s (& Chester’s) chairs. https://www.instagram.com/burnheartmade/  

Earlier I posted a bit about a visit I made with Brendan to see a few of Chester Cornett’s chairs at the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead KY. He gave me a copy of an exhibition catalog produced there called “Chester Cornett: Beyond the Narrow Sky.” I see now it’s available online so for those of you who can tolerate reading stuff on-screen here’s the link:
https://scholarworks.moreheadstate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1012&context=kfac_exhibition_catalogs

After the carved box class at Lost Art Press, I came home & finished up a couple of boxes, then launched into preparation for the JA ladderback chair class starting tomorrow with Plymouth CRAFT. I’m looking forward to shaving up some nice fresh red oak, should be fun. Smelly, but fun. 

While on the subject of JA’s chairs, after all these years I’ve been published in Taunton’s Fine Woodworking magazine.  https://www.finewoodworking.com/ 

Issue #277, Oct 2019 features an article I worked on about making a rectangular stool with a hickory bark seat. The focus is on the wet/dry joint so critical to this construction. It was Taunton Press that first published JA’s book back in 1978 that led to me being a woodworker in the first place. I’ve worked with FWW a few times, appearing at some of their events and it’s a thrill to now be presented in their magazine. Thanks to all on staff there that made it happen. It was an extra surprise to get a nice book review for Joiner’s Work from them as well, in the same issue. Thanks, Barry. 

If you need the book after reading the review, it’s here:  https://lostartpress.com/products/joiners-work

 

Hickory bark seat

Part of my re-discovery of the JA chair is a hickory bark seat. I know of nothing else that works, looks and feels this good. And the more you use the chair, the better the bark seat looks. I got a couple of boxes of bark coils JA had. (sorry, Nathaniel. That’s why you got the Jogge cabinet…)

Here in New England, I never get such long strips of bark as this. I think the bulk of this seat was 3 strips. After soaking the bark, the first thing I did was split each strip in half. The under-half goes on the seat, the upper half I save for lashing basket rims.

I tie the strip at the back rung, next to the post on my left. You can start on the other side, but this seems to be my habit. If I recall…

Under the front rung, back over the rear, laying over the tie. Then come back again…

and on & on…I pull it snug, but not tight. The bark soaked for over an hour and is quite pliable.

 

 

Starting to run out of this strip. I make sure the end where I will tie a new strip on is on the bottom of the seat.

Like that…

Once I’ve come around the corner, I start the weaving. This herringbone/twill pattern is over-2/under-2 for the first row.

Then over-one, under-2.

Row 3 is under 2-over-2.

I guess I didn’t shoot the next row – it’s under-1/over-2. The only skip is at the right-hand side. Otherwise it’s over-2/under-2…

The kids came out, they’d never seen me do this work before…tried their hand at it. Here’s Daniel’s turn:

 

And Rose’s.

 

Using a JA-made stick to shove the rows up tight.

 

The stick is tapered in thickness, so it can get under there to catch the weaver as it comes through. Next time, I’ll fill strips in the sides, and pack the top toward the back. I should get one more row up near the front rail.