Grell’s shop, the site of this weekends SAPFM meeting
Richard Grell’s woodshop lies at the end of a tree lined gravel lane. I dropped in the other day to see Richard in action teaching a child’s Chair class.
Grell made his sole living for forty years making Windsors and was often sought out by serious collectors and auction houses when the need for museum class reproductions arose. These days he’s changed course and in his words, “Do a download, and offer that forty years of craft knowledge to woodworkers”. A rare opportunity offers itself this weekend with the Ohio River Valley Chapter (ORV) of SAPFM hosting it’s fall meeting at Grell’s Hudson Ohio shop. Aside from our usual crew of furniture makers from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia, this is a special treat for folks up north in the western PA or NY area. The ORV usually meets in southern Ohio locations (West Virginia also), so this a a chance to attend an ORV event in your neck of the woods. Any non-SAPFM members wishing to attend and check out one of the premier woodworking furniture groups in the country, contact me at email@example.com for more details. This is a weekend you won’t want to miss!
Here’s a short video about SAPFM
I’m always a sucker for any story about keeping a traditional craft alive. So a small foundry casting bronze bells for a 1000 years got my attention. At 2:20 the master bell maker explains the simple geometry behind the bell design. Those darn simple ratios seem to turn up everywhere! See this short video of the bell makers of Agnone Italy.
George R. Walker
Horse study by Leonardo
Beauty is a hard thing to put a finger on. We know it instinctively when we see it, but struggle to put into words. One of the attributes the ancients saw in beauty was ontological. That’s a fancy term for the horse-ness of a horse, the canoe-ness of a canoe, the wine-ness of a wine. Something inside that embodies the essence of the true thing or being. Yet, even the idea of the essence of a thing is not black and white. This essence isn’t confined to a style, culture, or genre. The dog-ness of a dog can come through the brushstrokes of a painting more clearly than the kitschy canine celebrities at a dog show.
‘Grouse’ by Thomas Eakins
So how does this apply to furniture design? This ontological attribute applies to the built world also. An architectural writer Denis McNamara opined, people like their churches to be recognizable as a church, not to be confused with a pizza hut. Although our ideas about this true essence may evolve, our desire to connect with something genuine does not.
Windsor Chair by Richard Grell, photo by author
What is that essence I look for in a furniture design? To me it has to speak of home and all that entails. Pulling off cold boots in front of the hearth and warming numb feet, eating a slice of blackberry pie fresh from the oven and the sounds of laughter echoing from the kitchen. It also has to speak of the forest and the craft of woodworking. That’s as far as I’ll venture without trampling all over it.
What’s your idea of the essence of a chair or table or chest design? Can you put it to words?
is for quaint. A trade name for a number of lines of furniture produced by the Stickley Brothers in Grand Rapids Michigan. They began using the name “Quaint Mission”, attached to a line of mission inspired furniture and then subsequently used the term as a brand to market lines of factory made furniture under the names Quaint Arts & Crafts, Quaint Tudor, Quaint Manor, and finally Quaint American. Here’s a link to a Quaint catalogue from the early 20th century. Quaint
Note – Thanks to Donna Hill for helping me find a solution to the letter “Q”. I decided to forgo the ubiquitous “Queen Anne” since according to Jack Plane at Pegs and Tails, we Americans cannot keep our Queens (or kings) straight.
George R. Walker
I debated about posting this non-woodworking advise, but thought you need to read this.
Get your shingles vaccine. Run – don’t walk to your doctor.
It started five weeks ago with what I thought was a kidney stone and the obligatory wrecked back. I did everything wrong – didn’t get the vaccine, or run to the emergency room at the first sign of a colony of angry fire ants holding war games on my midsection. Did I mention you should get your vaccine? Listen, I’ve skidded down thirty yards of tar and gravel hardpan behind a motorcycle hurling sparks into the nightime sky, my right kidney has birthed a litter of stones including one dreadnaught the size of a German mauser rifle bullet, I’ve busted fingers, broke ribs, and gotten knocked out by a rock hurled by my best boyhood pal. I’d trade all those in exchange for not having this present malady. In fact I’d trade a grade four Parker side by side shotgun, a truckload of Cuban Mahogany, and a Sandusky Rosewood centerwheel plow plane for not having to go through this. I swear the Doc has me on placebos, but he says if all goes well, I should get some relief in another month. Did I mention you should get your vaccine?
One of the really fun parts about our design critiques is to see the finished results on a project. Adrian asked for your help back in Feb 2012.
Here’s a link to his blog with more pictures and details. Check out the stunning wood he showcases in the top, nice work! Adrianmakes
erdix, also known as Talus or Calus. A Greek mythological figure, the nephew of Daedalus a skilled craftsman. Perdix apprenticed to Daedalus and under his tutelage was credited with the invention of the first saw fashioned from the backbone of a fish. He also attached two branches of metal together with a rivet on one end and sharp points on the business end to craft the first pair of dividers.
Daedalus burned with jealousy at his inventive nephew and pushed him off a towering cliff. Athena came to the young inventors rescue and turned him into a partridge before his body was dashed against the rocks below.
Grey Partridge (Perdix – perdix)
Which is why we will never know the secret behind the saw nib.