Introducing Othie the shopdog

Jim Tolpin has an incredible woodshop and a shop dog named Othie.  Recently, Jim’s been working with Andrea Love to create a short animated clip of the work that the two of us have been exploring the past six years. Our book By Hand & Eye is the product of that journey into the world of traditional design. Take a look at Jim’s shop and his marvelous shop dog.

Enjoy.

 

George R. Walker

7 Comments

Filed under Design Book

Design Critique Feb 2015

IMG_0829

It’s been a while since I posted work on this blog for a critique. For those of you new to this, I offer to post pictures of readers projects and invite any and all to offer constructive feedback. By constructive, I mean you can offer up any thoughts you have as long as they are paired with thoughtful reasons. For example, you can say what you don’t like about it, IF you offer suggestions or at least hints at what you would do to improve it. Likewise your thoughts on what you like about a work are welcome, but please expand on why. Critiques can be invaluable to the person offering up their work, but also to those giving feedback as it helps you to think deeply about what does or doesn’t work. With that said I’ll let Tom Morris give a short introduction in his own words. Your thoughtful comments are appreciated. These projects are architectural interior details. I’m posting Tom’s rendering and then a photo of the work itself.

First, I am not a carpenter, I am an painter/artist.  I got this job to help in the design of a large house in the country.  Without going into detail, I have done brick work, interior room design, and even a small outside garden building. On the inside of the house I have designed a lot of finish work as well as built ins.  I think I will be designing some free standing furniture in the future.  So  thought it would be fun to get  response to some of the things I have done which are basically built ins. All the designs where done for specific spaces, i.e. the size and dimension of the spaces already existed.


IMG_0830
IMG_0066IMG_1808
IMG_7460
IMG_1802IMG_0096

4 Comments

Filed under design critique

Square the circle and see clearly

Note the circles inside this bookcase which offers geometric clues to the proportions

Note the circles inside this bookcase which offers geometric clues to the proportions

Pre-industrial design books frequently employed squares, circles, and simple rectangles to convey the basic proportions in a design. Often these drawings show circles surrounded by squares and rectangles to help the reader quickly grasp the composition. A circle conveys that the space is equal in width and height (essentially a square) and combinations of overlapping circles easily convey a square expanding into a rectangle. The beauty of using these simple overlapping circles is that it’s easy to depict rectangles which have harmonic width to height ratios. Draw two circles where the diameters just touch the focal points and the surrounding rectangle has a ratio of 2 parts high to 3 parts wide ( 2:3 is a fifth in music).

This design uses overlapping circles to reveal a rectangle governing the formthat is 2: 3

This design uses a simple rectangle with overlapping circles to reveal a rectangle that is 2: 3

I often encourage students to draw these simple rectangles to help them visualize harmonic shapes, rectangles with ratios of 1:2, 2:3, 3:4, 3:5, and 4:5.

Let’s say you want to draw a rectangle that is 4:5 or four parts high by five wide. Historically this was called a square and one quarter square. Begin by drawing a circle then scribe a horizontal line through the center and extend it in the direction you want to expand. Then use dividers to step off the line into four equal parts inside the circle. Go back to your  compass and draw  an overlapping circle so the circumference of your second circle overlaps all but one quarter of the first. Surround both with a rectangle and you have a nice harmonic shape to use for the opening on a fireplace or the outline of an end table.

blog 001

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Awesome carved bowls

Lead option 2

Last year I had the pleasure of spending time with Dave Fisher in his workshop. It’s a feeble attempt to try to explain his work with this photo. You only get  this one static look that doesn’t capture the sparkle of sunlight bouncing off the curved forms or the messages only your hands can read.  Dave recently started a blog (Link) about his craft journey. Regardless of your interest in carved wooden bowls, he has a wealth of hard won knowledge about design, especially about incorporating curves in a design. He’s someone I pay close attention to. I must warn you though. After I spent a day in Dave’s shop I came away with more questions than I went in with.

Just a note, I’ll be teaching a design workshop at Richard Grell’s in Hudson Ohio on the 26th & 27th of January and there are still a few spots available. Also, I’ll be in Phoenix in Feb at the Southwest School of Woodworking. Still have a few open spots in that design workshop also. Hope to see you there.

 

George R. Walker

 

4 Comments

Filed under Design Basics, design workshops

Design workbook coming in 2015!

architecturacivi00cara_0729

 

Jim Tolpin and I are in high cotton. Even before By Hand & Eye was finished we sensed there was still a critical missing piece. That missing piece was a bridge that linked the head knowledge of design with the everyday practical problems in the woodshop.  Our thoughts kept turning to a down and dirty shop guide meant to hang on a nail over your bench. I’m happy to report we are at it hammer and tongs writing a design workbook slated for release next year through Lost Art Press . It’s a self study guide peppered with drawing exercises to hone your inner eye as well as a boatload of practical layout strategies like a quick and elegant way to space narrow slats on a chair back, or how to draw a sweet curve that bristles with just the right amount of energy.

“With the most primitive means the artist creates something which the most ingenious and efficient technology will never be able to make.”

Kasimir Malevich (Early 20th century Russian artist and theoretician) 

This workbook is a natural outgrowth of our own journey as woodworkers but also a product of the many workshops we’ve held over the last few years. Essentially it’s a guided tour back to first principles. We start from a single point          .↶   literally, and progress through lines, planes, solids, and curves. Along the way we explore proportions and patterns found throughout nature and the entire built world with plenty of exercises so you become familiar with the concepts. Armed with just a pair of dividers, a straightedge, and a ball of string, you’ll be able build your own version of the Parthenon, a pie cabinet, or some really snazzy patio furniture.


George R. Walker

10 Comments

Filed under Design Basics, Design Book, proportions, Resources

Merry Christmas!

Unto us a  Child is born, unto us a son is given.... Oil on canvas by Barb Walker

Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given….
Oil on canvas by Barb Walker

Barbie and I wish you and your families a blessed holiday.

 

George R. Walker

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What can you gain from a Design Workshop?

unnamed (3)

Design workshops are a horse of a different color. The focus isn’t on a single project, but instead on every project you build going forward. OK – if you must have a clear idea of a project before signing on, my design workshops project involves a bit of demolition, setting a foundation, erecting walls, staircases, installing windows, running miles of new wiring, and it all takes place inside your head. Oh, and we accomplish all of this with a pair of dividers, a stick, and a pencil.

Students run the gamut from beginning woodworkers, to professional carpenters, graphic designers, engineers, free thinking artistic spirits, to the average Joe who just wants to take his or her work to another level.

Some common themes resonate with all.  Everyone senses when a design looks right, but most can’t go much past just a vague feeling.  After a workshop, that inner sense is decidedly stronger and students can begin to pinpoint why a design works or fails. Much of this progress results from getting a firm grip on what you already know intuitively.

That simmering doubt surrounding proportions evaporates. Yet, this is not about recipes or formulas. Students get the opportunity play and experiment with proportions, much like learning how spices combine to create depth of flavor in a good chili.  This quickly leads to the ability to unpack proportions in the wild. Great buildings, furniture, and works of art reveal their secrets and become a practical source of inspiration.

Most notice a marked improvement in the designs coming off their pencil by day two, and the ability to execute and self critique takes a dramatic step forward. Treat yourself to a weekend in 2015 that will change every aspect of your woodworking by attending a By Hand & Eye Design Workshop. Here’s a list of dates and locations for the coming year.

January 24 – 25, 2015  Hudson Ohio,     R. Grell Fine Woodworking Workshops

February 20 -22  Phoenix, Southwest School of Woodworking

August 8 – 9 Warren Maine, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

Oct 17 – 18, Franklin IN, Marc Adams 

 

George R. Walker

8 Comments

Filed under design workshops