ideas: taking design for a walk

The absolute most enjoyable part of my work is coming up with design ideas.  These notions and influences can come along from many sources, places, people and now, increasingly from the world wide web.  I’ve been a fan of Scottish architect and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh for as long as I can remember. Something about his work and use of visual language has for a long time, been something I want to emulate when I make something new, but in a quiet way, I hope.

This piece of work all began when I was given a trailer load of timber by my cousin. Whilst we unloaded it my eye was habitually scanning the pieces whilst ideas came to mind for some of them. Lots of the timber was simply ‘stock’ beautiful, high quality hardwood stock at that.  A few sections of timber caught my eye immediately, I set them aside for some further thought and how I could use them to best effect.

scots elm, canadian maple, noble timber for a throne

burr-elm is full of character

The timbers that caught my attention were elm, spalted maple and tulip-wood, particularly fine and noble species and, as it goes, amongst my favourite timbers to work with…make a throne, they said, something to show off our grain and structure, the colours and structure are here to be found…make a high back chair kind of a throne, an earthy, rustic Mackintosh. This was indeed what I had to do.

burr-elm, maple and tulipwood, waiting for ideas

raw timber, part worked and dusty with age

The making: without a doubt, the fun part, begin with a notion, some ideas, and see where we can go. Working without plans but with some ideas of structure and shapes I wanted to achieve in the final, finished thing can be so liberating as a maker, it feels more like working with the timber, more than simply imposing my will upon it.

imposition of ideas sometimes fails

a cut too far

Then came the moment where I pushed too hard, stopped listening to what the timber was telling me!

carpentry tells us to make a feature of junctions that cannot be hidden

restored by carpenter sleight of hand

Having made a mistake, and recovered it. I continued with the making with the original enthusiasm I had started with. making cuts and shaping the parts as I carried on with the work, following the clues for how to work the timber. I’m so pleased with how my ideas turned out.

native elm from scotland

burr elm chair back

sculptural and functional furniture

the carpenters throne

elm, maple, tulip-wood

workshop photo almost complete