Tuesday, 28 August 2012

scrap wood done good

If you have been following me on twitter and reading my blog you will know that I haven’t got any major furniture making to do at the moment for clients or shops so I thought that it would be a good time to try and use up all the scrap wood I have accumulated over the months and also try some new ideas out that have been in my sketchbook for a while now. Most notably desk accessories and oddly, candle holders.
  Now this isn’t my usual bag so to speak as I would much rather be making a nice desk or table but there is only so much furniture a man can make and store! Without being overrun with it all and nowhere for it to go. So turning my hand to something smaller seemed the logical step.
  I have lots of scrap wood lying about from Sapele to American White Oak and the overriding thing that struck me was I wanted to create some objects that did not detract from the overall look of the wood (the grain, pattern, form) so I played around with simple ideas where function was the leading aspect, so the wood stood out.

  As many of you know my favourite tool at the moment is the router. Such a versatile tool and one I have used to great effect in other projects detailed in this blog, so I knew with this tool I could create/change an object without taking too much of the wood itself away. And still leave something unique and usable. So I simply and if I’m honest quickly created what I like to call the fort (because it looks a minimalist castle) it’s a very basic candle holder made from a block of Sapele wood (but any wood could be used) which has a section cut right through it to house, crucially two different types of candles. This was important. I didn’t want such a basic design to be basic in use so having the option of it using normal candles (wedged into the first cut through section) as well as good old tea lights in the second cut through section, gave it a little bit of customisation (see photos). The idea is to have small forts dotted around a table or area, and also long fort sections that house 10 tea lights or more, or a mixture of normal candles in a row to create a modern simple (and a little bit dramatic) light source.
To me this basic design was pleasing to the eye and gave new life to old scraps that I would have never known what to do with. I intend to display this design and its bigger brother on the numerous portfolio websites and then hopefully get it ready to be bought on the great www.stylisticgallery.com

Monday, 20 August 2012

the writing desk

Finally another blog post I hear you cry, I know it’s very long overdue again but I have been very busy making some of my designs to show in another local shop. The Living rooms is a fair-trade sustainably sourced furniture shop that stock a large range of furniture from outdoor to dining ranges, and they approached me to see if I was interested in showing my designs in their vast shop, I jumped at this chance and so if your ever in Norfolk you need to pop down and have a look, my work will also be featured on their website too. So it’s really good news for me, meaning my work is being showed in more shops now and not just online, so things a are looking up in terms of getting my designs out there.

Now back to the point of this post, to detail the design of my most recent design I did for a client in Yorkshire, a writing desk. The client approached me after seeing my designs for the ‘cant’ side table and console table and asked if I could come up with a similar design for a desk. Obviously I jumped at the chance as it was my first commission and I really needed to start making bigger items of furniture too.  So i sat down with them and sketched out a few ideas and found out exactly what they wanted from the desk. This took a few hours as I had to factor in the restraints of space I was working with and what they were hoping for, so a big compromise all round. Once they were happy with the initial idea I made a quick mock up to make sure I had the ergonomics spot on and the overall form was to their liking. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the mock up but it was very basic and proved a point. Thus making the next stage much easier in working out the final dimensions and how the design was going to work.

As the ‘cant’ design series relied on the cantilever principle I could not adopt this technique to the desk, because it would require an extremely heavy and robust frame to support the cantilever and the frame work its self would have to be very thick to take the weight that the desk would have to support, so I came up with an aesthetic  idea of the having the desk top resting on the framework but still fixed inside the frame at one end like the side table and console table this desk takes it inspiration from. So then ensued a lot of CAD work to figure out how to make this resting idea work and work out the final details.

The client chose the wood (sapele) which pleased me as it’s a wood I like to work with and have a lot of experience with so was confident in working with it to produce a bigger design to what I am used too.  And the client was also happy to use 10mm thick acrylic as the desk top (the same combination used on the console table) which not only suited the overall look (an abstract minimal form) but would add a significant amount of structural support to the overall design.  As the frame work I was proposing was unproven and I needed to make sure the design was rigid enough to be used every day and support a fair amount of weight (books, laptop, printer) etc. So more CAD work was needed to assess the need for a central support which would run along the bottom, this not only unhindered the overall look but provided vital rigidity.

Once all the design and CAD work had been done it was time to start making. I acquired the sapele wood from my local wood yard and ordered the black acrylic from a local company. As this was the biggest project I had done I felt a bit daunted by the overall project in hand but I learnt so much from the whole process. Making the framework was quite simple and just needed an extra pair of hands when it came to gluing. The difficult part came when I had to marry the acrylic to the frame work. It required some tricky routing and drilling and because the wood is such a strong contrasting material against the acrylic I had to design in some features to allow the frame to move and shrink. But after a lot of head scratching and huffing and puffing the basic desk was complete and all that was left was to conceal the fixing bolts (by veneering the top brace at the back where the acrylic sits inside) and then finish the bare wood with Danish oil. This beautifully darkened the sapele to add depth and worked amazingly with the gloss black acrylic.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

the return

It's been a long wait but finally i have time to write a post and update everyone on a manic few weeks and explain why i haven't been on here for so long. The last post explained my design and construction on a commission desk i was working on for a couple in leeds. the desk is now finished after a stop start project which resulted in a few more weeks added to the timeline than i would have liked. But the main thing is i am overly pleased with it, as it was the biggest thing i have made to date and came out better than expected. Below are some photos showing the desk in various stages. All that is left for me is to take some professional photos of it and get it up to yorkshire. Than i can add it to my portfolio and then have the encouragement of making bigger items of furniture in the future.

I will put the professional photos on here in due course but i want to just explain what else i am upto and why i havent been on here for so long. As regular readers will know its a long journey to try and get recognised in this discipline for me and i have been trying to contact galleries and shops to hopefully promote and sell my work. It will take time but luckily i have found another shop that wants to display my work in an exhibiton/popup shop. It's great news and means another person believes in my designs and me. So im busily making two of my 'scape' mirrors and a 'cant' sidetable to display in this shop. It's exciting times but means my time is limited now, having to make 3 items of furniture to the best of my ability and carry on working means i have had to make some cuts in what i can do until these pieces are made, but i have made some time to write this and will try and devote more time as its important part of my development and getting my designs out there.
  The wood i am using to make these three pieces is the lovely beech wood, luckily i had a spare piece knocking around the workshop which was just the right size to make these pieces. the following photos show some progress work and some of the joints that i have been working on (trying to improve consistency and quality at every opportunity)

One thing i have done is completely redesign the construction of the 'scape' mirror to improve the ease of making it and the overall integrity. The redesign has proved successful but one thing i am learning is that the design constantly changes along with the wood i use. So this redesign will change again i reckon as i understand how the mirror glass reacts with the frame and how i need the frame to be independant to a degree to work with the wood. But the overall improvements were much needed and have improved the aesthetics no end. As always photos of the improved design will be posted on here. But my days now revolve around oiling the sidetable frame and mirror frames and getting them delivered to the shop and out in the public eye. I have also made some promotional postcards to accompany my designs in the shop which all helps in my plans to get notcied and sell my designs. As always i am learning alot about this massive industry but more importantly my designs are holding thier own and looking good as they take me further afield beyond sleepy norfolk.