Grace and style


I've sort of been thinking lately that what separates a good furniture maker from a great furniture maker is grace and style. You know the Maloof factor. We've all seen great craftsmanship... All the joints and finish perfect, but it looks out of proportion. Legs too fat, long, short, table too thick and so on. Grace and style or having the right proportion for the piece is the hard part for me.. I can't tell you how often I've seen a piece and just want to take out the tape measure and go to work on copying it, but the guy has it for sale and I don't think he'd appreciate that too much. How do you learn grace and style in furniture making or is it something you have to be born with..
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Jim Hall wrote:

I think its a case of having a good eye for detail along with an artistic presence within the individual.
--
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite




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Being born with it helps. ;-)
But spending some serious time with the classics in all areas of life helps one to understand balance, proportion and blending of aspects, such that one has an harmonious whole.
I have four grown sons. One of them has the eye for design. The others have other talents.
Keep at it. You can learn this stuff.
Patriarch
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Thu, Sep 7, 2006, 8:19pm (EDT-3) snipped-for-privacy@cox.net (Jim Hall) <snip> We've all seen great craftsmanship... All the joints and finishperfect, but it looks out of proportion. Legs too fat, long, short, table too thick and so on. <snip>
Grace and style, eh? Nice for the "artistes" I guess, but I've seen damn all little stuff from those types I'd own, even if it wasn't so vastly overpriced.. You make an arm chair with "grace and style" with all the "right proportions" and the a prospective woman customer gets stuck in it because she's wider than the chair. Or, she surpasses the weight limit of the chair. I'm more for useful, then all that. You get a woman, maybe 4 feet tall, who's a bit wide, so she'may take a chair with the "right proportions" - except it's too tall for her to get on without a step-stool - I say the Hell with that, and say make her a chair with short legs. Or, legs strong engou to support a larger woman. I've got nothing against furniture looking good, but I would imagine that my sense of the "right proportion" is remarkably different from yours. My idea of grace and style, and right proportions in furniture is pretty much to Stickley. And some Frank Lloyd Wright. Maloof makes some nice stuff, but nothing that thrills me all that much..
JOAT I am not paranoid. I do not "think" people are after me. I "know" damn well they're after me.
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Some people like the classical style, some the modern style, others the log cabin style. Do your own thing and make it to suit yourself. You can't please everyone, so please yourself. Your improved craftsmanship, you will learn in time, will speak for itself. In 30 years, I'm sure you'll have a nice history of your progress and accomplishments toward this end. It may not be your specific goal, ie., to excel in this department, ...it will simply evolve.
Sonny
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On Fri, 8 Sep 2006 01:44:33 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote:

But even simple stuff can be enhanced, bro...
I remember one of my first projects was a floor to ceiling bookcase... it looked good to me and worked well.. Then my brother came over an added a few pieces of molding and ran a router with a rounding bit over the shelf fronts and it became a piece of furniture... Mac
https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis/wood_stuff.htm
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"Jim Hall" wrote in message > I've sort of been thinking lately that what separates a good furniture maker

That's why Mission and Arts & Crafts was invented ... so you wouldn't have to fool with all that crap. ;)
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I love Stickley brother's stuff..! Their Morris chair is a classic. Usually when I'm thinking of building something, I get out some scratch paper and rough sketch out what I want and go from there and when I'm done. I'll say to myself probably should have made this or that a little differently. Maybe like everyone else. I'm thinking if I had a better visual tool where I could refine the dimensions more precisely that would make a difference. Maybe a CAD program would work. I'd hate to lose time building mock ups, but that would probably be ideal.

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"Jim Hall" wrote in message

The key is having the necessary neurons to be able to "see" a piece, that doesn't exist, from different perspectives.
Most of us have to see the existing object, and often from different perspectives, to appreciate what works and what doesn't.
I am firmly in the latter category.
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Jim Hall wrote:

Except that it's not theirs. The Morris chair (and all the other good stuff) was the proiduct of _Gustav_ Stickley. L & JG Stickley's own designs always looked pedestrian in comparison. They were better businessmen though, which is why the business is still around today, churning out what are mainly Gustav's products.
Even Gustav was no great shakes as a designer. His real break came from employing Harvey Ellis, however briefly. Now _there_ was a chap with real design talent. I particularly like his ability to combine the blockiness of American Craftsman furniture with the art nouveau like inlays, reminiscent of Scottish styles of the time, like Mackintosh. If you look through any of the old Stickly catalogues, Ellis' designs are the ones that stand out.
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cabinet was the router... and it does make a lot of difference..
OTOH, I always run flatwork projects by him first... he just has an "eye" for proportion and perspective... I his case, he was born with it... In my case, it doesn't seem to be something that can be learned..
Sort of like turning a bowl.. IMHO, knowing how to add a lip, undercut or decorative line is easy.... knowing when and where is a gift you're born with.. Mac
https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis/wood_stuff.htm
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mac davis wrote:

I used to think that too, when I knew sod all about sod all.
I still use a router, because I still have to crank out hack-work for the Christmas trade.
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Jim Hall wrote:

Maker or designer? They're rarely found together, in equal measure.
Most of what accounts for "good" design is still based on the Renaissance, when aesthetic principles were codified according to underlying geometry that goes back as far as the Greeks. The books of Vitruvius and Palladio on architecture are still essential reading today if you're to get the basics and the _vocabulary_ of proportion based design.
We learn an awful lot too by studying past furniture. There's still little to touch the best of the last 18th century, particularly American Federal. A read of Jeffrey Greene's book "American Furniture" is time well spent.
One of the best down-to-it tutorials I know of on furniture design, as in the principles of classical proportion applied to historical period furniture is Franklin Gottshall's sadly OOP and hard to find "How to Design Period Furniture", ISBN 051702263X An excellent design guide to anyone caring about either reproduction of names styles, or just understanding the basic approaches to proportion.
Another good read is Frederick Wilbur's "Carving Architectural Detail in Wood: The Classical Tradition" A book of two parts, one is obviously a guide to the technical aspects of carving such details. Perhaps the more interesting though is a very accessible history of architectural details in the classic tradition of Greece, Rome and Palladio, through to Colonial America.
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Inspiring.. Thank you.. I do have, at least, Jeffrey Greene's book. Part of a 31 book collection on furniture making I bought on Ebay a few months ago.. An excellent book indeed. Thank you so much for you advice and reading list..

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Thanks everyone for your comments and advice.

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Fri, Sep 8, 2006, 10:25pm (EDT-3) snipped-for-privacy@cox.net (Jim Hall) doth mumbel: Thanks everyone for your comments and advice.
Ah, you wanted advice. That slipped by me the first time, because you didn't use a question mark. Seems to be a LOT of that going on around here.
You want to make "style and grace" furniture? Then you make what YOU like, not just what someone else says it is. You see some furniture you like, but you're uneasy asking if you can measure it, no prob. Always carry a camera, and TAKE PICTUREs OF IT. If you want to reference measurements, lay a ruler in the pictures. No prob.
JOAT I am not paranoid. I do not "think" people are after me. I "know" damn well they're after me.
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