MacRostie Art Center exhibition
We at the Doxa Shoppe had numerous pieces exhibited during the month of November 2014 at the MacRostie Art Center.
The Shaker pedestal table is my hands down favorite style of table. Its lines are fluid, almost seamless. Its form is simple, yet there is a timeless elegance in its urn-like base and arched, tapered legs. It’s the quintessential American table. Would you have guessed that the style is from the 1820s? Does it look out of place today? Would it look out of place in your home? Isn’t it strange how certain forms seem hold their appeal, regardless of the times? Is that the power of art?
The Kentucky Shakers, it seems, were ahead of their New England brethren: not only did they combine the usual function and form philosophy, they added figure by using cherry, walnut, and butternut (plus curly woods). My piece extends that concept even more: use the finest figure you can find—all still for the glory of God, of course.
Curly cherry, butternut, figured hard and soft maple—these are some of the woods I’ve used to make this style of pedestal table. They all have their unique attributes. It’s really a subjective call to say which is best.
Recently included on that list is this curly claro walnut table with a book-matched top for my youngest daughter. California claro walnut differs from Mid-western black walnut in that it has more color variation in my opinion, especially orange highlights in the heartwood.
Let’s just say that if you make a pedestal table for one daughter, you better make another for your other daughter, or….well you understand.
Reversion to the Mean (Solid quarter-sawn red oak Shaker trestle table )
The mean or standard in furniture making used to be an emphasis on careful craftsmanship, solid joinery and quality materials. The results were individual pieces lasting generations. For the Shakers, the external form and the method of construction were just outer manifestations of the builders’ inner values. The thought of using substandard materials coupled with poor construction was akin to defrauding your neighbor. It was to use him or her as a mere object.
Fast forward to today. Plastic veneers, particle board, mechanical fasteners all result in poor quality pieces: we have diverted from the mean. Landfills are brimming with toxic products which were designed to be obsolete and engineered to fail.
This piece is a reversion to the mean.
It has a solid 6/4 quarter-sawn top and solid 8/4 quarter-sawn oak feet, legs and trunk. The components have massive tenons, and the central beam is joined by four 6 “ steel bed bolts.
Note the “ray flake” in the top and throughout support components. This is what makes red and white oak so unique. When the wood is quarter-sawn (the grain perpendicular to the face of the board), the medullary rays are exposed, producing wavy, erratic markings which dance across the surface of the board.
· This is an unfinished piece— just a wash coat of shellac (1lb cut) was applied. Ready to stain, oil, or whatever kind of finish you choose.
· Kiln-dried, solid 1 ¼” (finished measurement) quarter-sawn red oak top with stunning ray flake throughout
· Main beam tenoned into support mortise w/ @ 1” long x 1” thick x 4” wide tenon
· Tenon held with two 6” steel bed bolts per end—the strongest joint possible.
· Bed bolt nuts epoxied into main beam for easy assembly/disassembly.
· Fully portable just like Shaker tables of old. Can be disassembled by removing bed bolt trim, unscrewing bed bolts and removing decorative trim underneath table.
· Gently tapered top. Thirty-degree edge profile to draw your eye heavenward.
· Feet, legs and trunk all quarter-sawn red oak to match top.
· Source of inspiration: fellowship around the table with family and friends, with eschatological overtones (Rev. 19:7).
· Shaker lines, my adaption. The decorative inner piece and the many auxiliary supports along the main beam add interest underneath the table.
Debbie’s Curly Cherry Mission Set
Pennsylvania curly cherry mission coffee and end tables
Our first home was an 1898 Swedish farmhouse in the rolling hills of eastern South Dakota. Like most young couples in a new place, we didn’t have a lot to go in it. In fact, after we moved in, it looked like the house was still for sale. A light in the window and a scraggly German Shorthaired Pointer out front were the only telltale signs that the home was sold. The family room, with its aged oak floors, faded spruce trim and tall ceilings, looked like an auditorium—vast and empty.
My solution was to rummage around the outbuildings for anything that would fill space. The male “make-do” instinct at work?
The chicken coop provided the best pickins’. Buried in the corner under a heap of feed bags and decades of dust were two old crates. I blew off the dust like an accomplished trumpet player would and set them in the warehouse-like living room.
My wife kindly explained that this was not going to work. It really was flawless reasoning: a crate from the chicken coop looks like…well… a crate from the chicken coop, not an end table. It really was that simple. How did I miss it?
It was my deep privilege to rectify this glaring oversight years later and build her a set of fine curly cherry mission-style tables.
A unique attribute of cherry is that it darkens naturally as it ages, producing a rich patina that stains can only try to imitate. Decade after decade the color matures and deepens mysteriously, like a good friendship, or marriage or even faith.
· Solid Pennsylvania curly black cherry
· No stain, natural color (2012), shellac wash coat, oiled, wipe-on poly finish
· This style would look fabulous in old-growth white oak, bastonge walnut or even bubinga--commissions welcome!
More to come....