A Furniture Aesthetic

As a woodworker, I love to work with wood in its natural state, to celebrate it as a source of inspiration.  Reverence for wood as a material is the basis for my aesthetic vision.  Each species has its own characteristic traits.  Each board offers its own unique message, telling and retelling the story of the life of the tree. 

Wood shares this beauty in a way that is intimate and immediate.  I make friends with this wood, and make sure it will be friendly to the hand.  When I discover a beautiful grain pattern, create a soft curve, or coax a unique sheen, I am excited to share this beauty with others.

This feeling of intimacy with wood directs me toward simple finishes, like linseed oil, tung oil, shellac, or paste wax: finishes that enhance rather than obscure the character of the wood.  Stains and dyes should be used in a subtle way, so as not to obscure that natural character.  Rather than attempt to imitate the finishes of the past, I prefer to use construction and finishing techniques that highlight and celebrate the unique and individual character of the woods I use.

This aesthetic demands an attention to the wood itself.  Every piece of wood I choose must work as a part of the whole, must contribute to the overall tension or harmony of the piece.  If the wood has a knot, it should either be featured prominently or concealed in such a way that it won’t distract from the overall effect.  If boards are edge-joined, they should have compatible grain characteristics to prevent those joints from distracting the viewer.  Methods such as bookmatching can create such harmonious effects.

Imitation in form and construction has provided me the opportunity to practice technique and develop a pleasing vocabulary, but strict imitation of old forms says little if anything new on my own behalf.  I want to use the old forms at most as a starting point from which to diverge and reinterpret.  Rather than faithfully reproduce a classic piece, I would prefer to take cues from those forms, but make them relevant to  life in the 21st century. 

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One thought on “A Furniture Aesthetic

  1. Pingback: Creative standstill, and the path forward « life, revisited:

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