Carved panel designs

final panel for bedstead

I just finished carving the 8th & final panel for the bedstead I have underway. There’s 4 patterns I used, each one repeats twice. most of them are patterns I made up, but drawn from a large body of work I have covered here a few times. The carvings that are the inspiration come from Devon, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts. I love these designs because they are so lively, and have so much variety.

Lately I’ve been trying to draw the designs – to try to learn how to talk about them – the parts, components and how they get combined. When I first saw these panels, I thought they must be the most involved carvings – but really they’re just busy…there’s very little background removed. Most of the impact is from the “horror vacuui” effect of covering every blessed surface with something. (This next one was a mistake – the board was 10″ wide, too narrow for the bedstead.)

Narrow panel

These patterns have a few common elements/motifs – most have an arch across the top of the panel. there are a few exceptions, but generally I carve the arch-top versions. All of these have an urn/vase/flowerpot just above the bottom/center of the panel. Then some leafy bits/leaves/flowers coming up and spreading out from this urn.   I tend to think of the designs being broken into thirds – though not necessarily even thirds.

Some wind up from the urn through the middle of the panel, then wind outward and reverse direction into the arch. Mostly these also bend downward, looping back toward the middle of the panel. In this case, there’s 3 tulip shapes inside this arc, then the big leafy bit that fills the bottom corner:

This pattern is easiest on wide stock, at least 10″ of carving space-width. This one, a chest I have copied a few times, the panel is 12 3/4″  wide x 15″ tall. Compare it to the narrow version above – I think it works better on the wide stock.

On this panel from the bedstead a single flower replaces the 3 tulips, same leaf at the bottom though:

Sometimes from the urn you get large shapes flowing almost horizontally out from the middle. these often have double-volute-ish scrolls where they hit the edges of the panel The one heading down then flows into a leaf shape that bends right against the bottom of the urn. This one is from the extra-wide muntin of the same chest –

Here’s the front of that chest – I copied the proportions and all the vertical bits from 2 examples I’ve seen in person, one other I know from a photograph. All were initialed & dated on the muntin; 1666, 1669 & 1682 for the dates. I substituted different (related) designs on the horizontal rails; and in this case added brackets underneath the bottom rail.

 

These carving often employ a three-part leaf, which is standard in the related S-scrolls – (seen here on a period box from Ipswich)

 

 

and on the panels this form is used again & again, inside spaces, between elements – it can be like this:

or like this part, just before it winds into the bottom of the arch:

 

Or along the side of the panel:

Hard to see it upside down, here it is from a period piece, the shape I’m thinking of is between the bottom of the arch and blends into the margin just above the large bottom leaves:

The bits flowing up from the urn that then turn down to the bottom corners can take several forms as well. The one I used at the top of this post is simple, big fat leafy shapes bending up then down. They split into three parts at the bottom – one to the corner, one to the feet/urn junction, and one between. Fill the spaces with gouge-cuts, and call it done.

as a drawing:

And carved:

I could go on forever, but this post has taken long enough. A few more panels of my work:

This one hangs in our kitchen, done in Alaska yellow cedar:

This oak panel was an experiment, I mostly like it, but rejected it for the bedstead:

This one took its place:

Here’s an example (a combination of 2 period carvings) of one of these panels without an arch:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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moldings

I have been cutting some moldings lately for a chest with drawers I’m building. The moldings surround the panels, and the drawer fronts. While I was cutting these, I was thinking about this blog. I started it in 2008, and never thought it would keep going this long. Because I didn’t know what I was doing, I never really organized it well. So there’s lots of photos spread out all over the blog that are useful…but sometimes hard to find. Today, I thought I could just post some photos of period moldings found on New England joined works. So here’s pictures.

a chest from Salem, Massachusetts: Tearout, anyone?

moldings detail

a chest with drawers, Plymouth Colony. This large molding (2″ tall) is integral to the rail, not applied.

molding details, Plymouth Colony chest
molding details, Plymouth Colony chest

Inside one of the Plymouth Colony chests, moldings on the rails and muntins:

interior, Ply Col chest w drawers
interior, Ply Col chest w drawers

Here’s a panel detail from Plymouth Colony. This is a common profile for the period, technically an ogee with a fillet, I think:

molding-details

This one’s from Chipstone’s website – a Boston chest panel:

cf-chest-middle-panel-just-moldings

This is a muntin from a chest made in Braintree, Massachusetts. I used to make this molding with a scratch stock. I think that cutter is gone now…

molding

This Connecticut (Wethersfield? Windsor? I can never get it straight) chest with drawers was the model we copied last time at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. These moldings are oak:

center panel_edited-1

A lousy photo, but if you squint at the ruler’s shadow, you can see the profile of this molding. Dedham Massachusetts chest.

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Also Dedham, different chest:

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Back to Connecticut, more Wethersfield, Windsor, etc.

vine-carving-3

a drawer from a Woburn, Massachusetts cupboard:

molding-detail

An ogee on the bottom edge of a table’s apron. Maybe this square table is Boston?

ogee-and-bracket

 

old drawings I just found again

I feel like I’m moving. I guess I am…I’ve been sifting through boxes of stuff that I stashed almost 3 years ago when I moved out of my old shop. The new one is nearing completion, so I keep sorting boxes…

 

english-paneling

People give me stuff every now & then, and somewhere along the line I got these small drawings. I forget who gave them to me. I scanned a few of them tonight. I don’t usually work from this sort of drawing, but I appreciate the skill that it takes to make them. They’re quite nice.

this first batch are all (except the cane chair) about 5″ x 7″ – but they’re not from one notebook, so the sizes vary. one seems like it says “drawn by C. M. Bill. I scanned them & darkened them a little…some are marked either “Albert & Vic” or “Al & Victoria” – thus the V&A in london…others are unmarked as to what collection they’re drawn from…

overmantel

table-base

v-a-childs-chair

the cane chair drawing is 6 3/4″ x 10 1/4″.

cane-chair

There’s about 10 more. I’ll scan those some point soon.

get Moxon

If you have read much of this blog, or listened to me or Alexander at any length, eventually you hear us come around to Moxon.  For those who are not familiar with his name, Joseph Moxon (1627-1691) was a printer in London, and in the last quarter of the seventeenth century he wrote a book called Mechanick Exercises, or the Doctrine of Handyworks. Chapters covered include joinery, turning, carpentry, as well as blacksmithing, “bricklayery” and Mechanick Dyalling (the making of a sun-dial).

Moxon's Mechanick Exercises

 

Moxon won’t teach you how to build a piece of joined furniture; but he illustrates and discusses the tools necessary for the work, and describes the techniques of making a mortise and tenon joint, how to plane the stock, etc. The book has been out of print again for the past few years; after going thru several reprints in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

Now Gary Roberts of Dedham, MA has brought it back again, in a facsimile edition. About a year or so ago, Gary released a CD version; I got that too, then when the book came along recently, I grabbed that as well. I already have a couple of editions (modern ones, not antiques!) and Alexander has others I don’t have. But better to have too many, than not enough. It’s not like there’s a lot of 17th c books on the subject.

If you don’t have a copy, bop over to Gary’s site & get one. cheap and clean. If you have one, maybe you need a shop copy in addition to a shelf copy.

http://shop.toolemera.com/shopmechanickexer.html

(all that disclaimer stuff – I have never met Gary, tho we have exchanged some emails. I have no interest in this gig, and I paid for my copies…so there. If it stunk, I would have said little or nothing. It’s worth getting.)

If you have Schwarz’ version of Moxon, http://www.lostartpress.com/product/da5ef04d-4805-4b1e-aed4-9bfc84c19591.aspx  you still need this one, that one is only the chapter on joinery.