The Wiggling Post
Stories In the Wood
The Life of a Woodwright Made Plain
It all started as an idea to write a book on furniture design.
Shaker-style to be specific; for the simple fact that, left to
my own devices, it is the look of my work.
Shaker style refers to furniture - or anything else really - that
is reminiscent of the simplistic lifestyle created by the Shaker
religious sect of the early to mid 1800s - more formally known as
the United Society of Believers.
The furniture made by the Shakers themselves has become extremely
valuable, highly sought after, and widely emulated. However, as I
began to write about what I was doing out in the dust and sifering closely
as to why I go this way or that with the construction, or look, of a piece,
I started to notice that the choices I make are not so much design
concepts as they are the result of a collection of stories in my head.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify - never scrafice integrity or strength.
This way of doing and being is to see through a Shaker's eyes
and goes to the core of their furniture. What they discovered by
simplifying and subtracting in their communities is grace; and that is
what we so admire in their furniture. A distinctive line with a supple
bearing is as clear a mark of a Shaker community as it is an endearing
feature of their furniture.
So, The Wiggling Post is a collection of stories, some of which weave
a tale of how and why I design the way I do. But, I should add, that
in developing these stories over the past half dozen years, it has become
clear that grace is the line I seek - & not just in furniture. And If
this line can be seen at all, it would be in the telling of a simple tale.
A more recent story Back Roads to Meliora & a developing one,
Desert Mesa, in fact break away from furniture development almost
completely, delving deeper into a life made plain by the Wood.
This is a track
followed by the builders who lived and worked in the Shaker
communities - so I feel I am in good company. These folks
pursued, with a daily grind, a communal notion of simplicity
in all things. It was this conviction that inspired
the grind and created the yarns that bled over into
when, where, and how to strike the wood.
If you could go to the heart of a Shaker builder - to what guided them
through the wood - I believe you would experience what they remember
about simple things on a regular day; and you would experience the
day by how they see. So, whether it be installing that rebuilt
loom, sharpening and adjusting the bottomplow's coulter for spring
plowing, or a memory of the moment taken to watch an evening breeze
carry a cloud's shadow across the far field of winter wheat - the
details of what the day is remembered with, can ride along the
edges of the wood.
So, this is not a book on design concepts with lines, arrows and pictures,
though such things grow out of the tales; it is a story that includes
stories that guide me in crafting furniture that sometimes manages
to hold that delicate balance between engineering and artistry.
In the contents (click 'Next') the story titles are links to
to those stories. Titles that are not links
are unposted works in progress.
Some stories have pieces of furniture that have been built
around them; some have ideas of furniture attached to them;
while others are only tales 'of the simplist thing'.
The first, Broome Straw, is a piece with furniture in mind.
Accompanying the story are photographs that summon images stored
in my mind's eye. The simple drawing of the linen press serves
as a skeleton for the project. There are also rough sketches of how
the carvings on the panels could run off the panels up into the drawer.
With the carvings, & a layering of the door panels with different woods,
it would be my hope to recreate that winter morning of
orange & white & ice.