Today I was thinking a lot about hewing a bowl with an adze. I was swinging a tool up and down, chopping into a large hollow shape, getting out the innards, and pulling out the chips. Getting more & more open = chop, sweep, chop, sweep. But instead of the confines of my home shop, I was on the ladder, chopping ice out of the old house’s gutters. Now the melting snow flows, but soon it will ice up again. Anyway, it was a nice afternoon up there in the heavens- but the only woodwork was in my head.
I did get a first coat of paint on the oak box I made. I checked the schedule, and decided I’d try to get it painted before I ship it off to Alaska. It looked too bland as it was. After this part dries, I’ll put some black squiggles & dots, then a coat of thin red over the oak. the paints are linseed oil/turpentine with iron oxide (red) and yellow ochre; and bone black. I mixed some raw umber in to help the drying too. The lid looks like it’s painted white in the photo above, but that’s just all the light from the snow. It’s a white pine lid, so very pale.
The layout for the oval on the lid, and a view of the till inside – recycled chip carving practice.
The cedar box just got linseed oil and turpentine. Helps highlight the carvings. Two comments yesterday from stitch-women (up-graded from stitch-girls; i.e. textile arisans – thanks Denise & Mary) praised the odd-proportioned box, one suggesting a sewing box. So now I know how to market it.
Here’s one many of you have seen before, related to the oak one I’m doing now.
The joint stool book has been out a while now, so once you’ve digested your copy http://www.lostartpress.com/Default.asp go get at some oak & let us see what you came up with. Hopefully summer will let go soon, so the heavy work of busting open a log won’t seem so daunting. I know I have cut back on what I have tackled during the heat & humidity…
Here is a stool sent in a while ago by Larry Barrett:
Here’s what Larry had to say:
“Hello Peter and Jennie
Attached are a few photos of joint stools, carved boxes and chairs – all made thanks to things I have learned from you both, either via your new book, Peter’s blog, or classes with Jennie. I have a good sized black (or maybe red) oak and a chestnut oak on the ground so there may be more to come. Thanks again,
We’re thrilled to see this sort of work = so keep them coming. If you are working your way through the joint stool book, send me some stuff. we’d love to see it.
If you don’t want to carve your stool like Larry did, and you need to liven it up, get out the brushes. I had an ash stool frame hanging around the shop for quite a while, and last week I put a sawn white oak seat on it, and then set about painting it. Here’s the initial result
The first step was the black squiggles and dots, then a thin coat of iron oxide mixed in linseed oil went over that once the black was dry to the touch.
Here’s one example of the inspiration for this, a painting by Judith Leyster, early 17th-c in Netherlands:
Boy am I glad I’m a carver, not a painter. This takes forever.
but it’s getting closer. I decided to leave the ends of the chest plain. I mixed a thin yellow ochre paint for them; and have been adding more & more detail to the front & lid. I hoped it would be one more session – but I bet it’s two. Some more details in black coming up next, as well as some painted turnings between the drawer fronts.
But there’s been good ducks around Plymouth this week. It took a few tries, but my friend Marie & I found the ruddy ducks today, sleepy as all get-out…
I have only seen them in captivity before, at Buckingham Palace’s gardens…so these were my first wild ones. Well, to call them wild is an exaggeration. They barely moved their heads…at one point they sorta bumped into each other, then a two-second kerfuffle, and it was right back to tucking their heads in.
here is the male’s summer self, but as I said essentially in a zoo – so only here to show what this duck becomes in spring/summer. But not in the east…
for studying painted work of the 17th century, the trick is there are few surviving examples. Paint was often used as interior decoration. One good source for inspiration in James Ayers, Domestic Interiors: the British Tradition 1500-1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003). Ayers’ book goes well past the time period I am interested in, but he has a whole chapter on paint, and painted stuff shows up in other sections too; like doors, windows, walls, etc.
A sample from Ayers’ book shows a painted plaster wall, done in black & white. Imagine a room like this – you’d be hard-pressed to see any carved furniture sitting in it.
For sources of patterns like this, there’s great stuff done in the early 1600s by Thomas Trevelyon. He made 2 books of patterns, adaptable for gardeners, painters, joiners, embroiderers, etc. But, his were not printed books, but just 2 manuscript copies. So his work didn’t circulate enough to be an original source for much. But it’s based in things he’d presumably seen in various forms; drawings, patterns in gardens, needlework, ceramics, architecture, paintings on cloth, plaster, and more.
There are only snippets of painted architectural work surviving in New England, but here & there in old England there are numerous examples. Nothing like there once was… Here’s a room painted to look as if it’s paneled , late 17th-century, from Oakwell Hall inYorkshire.
For comparison, here’s an actual paneled wall, from the same trip my wife & I made in 2005. So the painting is not to fool you into thinking it’s a paneled wall, but just to give the impression. I think this is from Haddon Hall in Derbyshire. I can’t swear to it, but I’m close…
How about pinstripes? This is from the Merchant’s House in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Note that the door doesn’t interrupt the scheme.
Painted furniture from the period is not unusual; it’s again hard to find surviving examples, but they are out there. Here’s a simple one. English again. What we don’t know for certain is the finish for the non-painted parts.
Remember, these folks were not afraid of patterns and colors. Here is a very high-style chair of the 2nd half of the 17th century, now displayed against a pale, plain wall in a museum – but in a period house? Could be totally lost against some of these walls.
and a detail
On my toolbox, I am not following any particular scheme; just sort of making it up as I go. To make matters more confounding, I have also looked at several examples of late 18th/early 19th-century Pennsylvania chests, seen in Wendy Cooper’s & Lisa Minardi’s book Paint, Pattern and People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725–1850 , I never did make it to see the exhibition, I had seen bits of it when it was being researched. But Kari Hultman went for us::http://villagecarpenter.blogspot.com/2011/03/paint-pattern-people-book-review.html
Those chests and boxes really stuck me, and if I had room here at the house, I’d make some copies. In my spare time…
A favorite random piece of English decoration is this embellishment I found in the Carpenters’ Company Records in London – 1573.
As far as how I prepare the paint, several people wrote & asked. Yes, it’d dry pigments mixed in linseed oil. And I doubt I’ll put a finish over that. When it’s painted, it’s done. The stool book has a section about making & using this sort of paint. Any day now…
There’s stuff in a few books on paint in New England work. Abbott Lowell Cummings’ Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay has some architectural interiors with paint. And Jonathan Fairbanks has a whole essay about portrait painting, but it has great details about materials, etc. “Portrait Painting in Seventeenth-Century Boston: Its History, Methods and Materials” in Fairbanks & Trent, New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1982)
well now I’ve done it. I have to get this tool chest painted so I can get on with the rest of my life. But today I painted for about 4 hours or more. And was it tiring! Standing in one position all day. And there’s more to go. but here’s what I got today.
I marked out some artificial spacing – created “stiles” on the ends of the chest front, and a center muntin. this way it mimics the lid above it. Then I started outlining the designs for the resulting two panels. I chose to use stuff I know well, that reduced how much head-scratching I had to do…then I outlined the pattern in bone black pigment.
The pine chest is not primed in any way, so it’s quite absorbent. Helps the paint dry quickly.
Then came some yellow ochre, just like I did yesterday.
As before, I am figuring this out as I go. Getting some paint on there helps to see where I have to go next. There’s a lot of area to cover. Can’t leave anything blank.
I knew I wanted fake drawer fronts on the skirt around the bottom of the chest; but I didn’t outline them in black, just scribed them with marking gauge & awl. So I will go back when this dries, and add outlines.
This is the front, about half-done. Gotta figure out the “muntin” for this section; and add some details. Next week I hope to finish the painting. Then I can start using the chest.
One nice part was standing at the window all day. Saw a red fox scoot by; but the camera was up on the tripod, so no shot of him. He’s a regular – I’ll get him at some point.
So I started painting the lid to my tool chest. It’s part 17th-century English, part 19th-century Pennsylvania. The lid has two flush panels in a frame, so it was easy to break it up into components. Here I have outlined some of the patterns in bone black pigment mixed in linseed oil.
Next came yellow ochre, to do some of the backgrounds, and some small details on a long rail.
When I started these flower-shapes in red, at first the red ran all the way out to the black background. Then I quickly realized I like a white-ish outline. So I will go over this when the colors dry & outline these in white.
This is as far as I got; I hadn’t figured out the patterns for the rest of it yet…
I haven’t forgotten the blog; it’s just that usually I write around the photographs, and with the rather excessive heat & humidity – just woodworking has been enough of a task. I haven’t really shot much in the past month or so.
Some folks recently have written asking about this & that, two of whom mentioned/asked about using power tools for one thing or another. I can’t even remember the specifics about the requests right now, so here is a general comment for this blog about power tools. First, you don’t need my permission to use power tools – go ahead if that’s what you want to do. Secondly, and most importantly, I can’t give you advice about using them one way or another. I really know nothing about them, nor do I want to… so for those of you looking for that sort of information, it ain’t here. There is lots of stuff here about hand tools, furniture history (of a very narrow scope) and some other random bits… so feel free to take what you can from here, and add to it whatever way suits your interests. some of my best friends use power tools…as they say. I decided long ago that I did not want to spend my time working that way. I have not regretted that at all, and I continue to derive great pleasure working wood with old tools and methods. Recently, a visitor to my shop, watching me work asked if I also did “traditional” woodworking. I lo0ked around at the pole lathe, hand planes, hatchets, saws, etc and the carved oak – and I asked him what he meant. He said, “you know, do you go home & use power tools?” – that was his definition of “traditional” woodwork. Oh, well.
I’m slowly getting back in the swing of things, and in the meantime, I was browsing my folders here and ran across a couple of things.
Here is a painted box, done as practice when I worked on the MFA cupboard. This one I decided was worth finishing, so I put a bottome & molding on it the other day, and cleats on the lid. All it needs now is the new wood painted. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=MFA+cupboard
One project I did this summer is another three-footed chair. This one is ash & cherry. I think it too will be painted; but not till the humidity is gone. I wrote a piece about its joinery for Popular Woodworking Magazine, that’s why it got bumped from the blog…
When I was up in Maine at the Lie-Nielsen open house, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nbt_L4Cr2c a father & son duo shot a photo of this white rat in one of my boxes. I did not get their names, but they had previously visited my shop at Plimoth. Apparently they photograph the rat wherever they go, or many places at least…
Most of my photos this summer have looked something like this, early morning at the beach, when time allows…
Went out in the yard the other evening to pick up some stuff, and saw this heron across the river; catching the low light as the sun set… around the yard lately have been herons most days (heard more than seen) and red-tailed hawks nearly constant. One morning two screech owls, also heard not seen…