Today's Arts & Crafts furniture missing the point?

Hi, all.
I've recently gotten pretty interested in Arts & Crafts furniture (both reproduction and antique) and am wondering something: in the recent renaissance, have some A&C reproduction designers gotten too carried away with "pure," extremely highly-figured quartersawn oak? It seems to me, as I study older (original) A&C pieces, one would generally find that pieces were constructed of a good mix of quartersawn and slightly riftsawn lumber, even in quite prominent areas. This is true of both "big name" (Roycroft, Stickley, Limbert) and "unsigned" pieces.
Today, some reproduction A&C furniture can be found that still uses such a mix, while other, apparently "high end" pieces, are made of so much highly figured oak that they don't resemble *anything* I have ever seen from the distant past. The conspicuous ray flake in these pieces is almost ridiculous. They don't really seem authentic to me when compared against period pieces.
Is it possible that today's high-end craftsman furniture reproduction "masters" have somewhat missed a point of practicality of the original Arts & Crafts movement? Or am I missing something?
Thanks for any historical guidance anyone can offer!
Drew
--
___________________________________________________________________
The Mac Orchard - http://www.macorchard.com /
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I produce and sell a lot of "Mission" furniture, I use flat sawn red oak. 90% of the customers don't know the difference between 1/4 sawn and flat, nor do they care. It's the style and proportions of your work that sells and not the figure of the grain. Also, many customers consider the ray flake a *defect*.
--
Rumpty

Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yep, Ive found the same thing. Works about the same for "wormy maple" I have a shop stool and a "first aid" cabinet in the shop that are made of wormy maple and most people ask "What happened to that!?" but there are a few that ask, "Can you get more of that wood?". I am building a mission style glider rocker for display and using flat sawn white oak because that will generate more general business. Many of the people that know about figured woods will ask if you can make it that way or have a specific wood in mind. I watch for those customers, they are the jewels in a sea of sameness.
BRuce
Rumpty wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
But do you find that when you look at the old, original A&C furniture, it doesn't feature as much ray fleck/flake as some of the reproduction pieces do?
Drew

--
___________________________________________________________________
The Mac Orchard - http://www.macorchard.com /
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
No question that today "figure" it is hyped, I would say I see 3 kinds of customers, those that look at figure as a defect; they want straight grain and poly, those that want all 4 sides of a post to have figure and those that know what the original looked liked and would like something similar. problem is that the last category consists of mostly wood workers that can build it them selves. :-)
I can't count the number of articles in the last year that show how to "build" a leg so that all 4 sides have rays or figure. H*ll, 2 of the sides don't show most of the time or are in the dark!
BRuce
Drew D. Saur wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I make my living making A&C furniture - 7 years now. Yes, I also see a rabid desire for "lots of rays and flakes" and "tiger stripes"... my clients terms... in A&C furniture, both on the part of crafters and buyers. I get about one board in 15 that has a really frantic flake pattern. The rest of the pile is quite average and looks just like the 100 year old originals do.
I was given the task of reproducing a piano (the first made, the prototype from 1905) for the (Gus) Stickley Museum - the original is still owned by Stickley's great-grand daughter. The original can be seen in the book "Stickley Style". I picked out a few really great looking boards and saved them for this special project. I ended up not using them.
I was surprized when I got to see the piano first hand. Being the first one made for the old man, I expected that the boys in the shop would have selected some prime, grade "A" boards. Nope. Very run-of-the-mill lumber, just like the wood that I get. Nice rays and flakes, but not the frantic "old growth" stuff used by Hile, Voohees, etc. (I hate when I hear someone say old growth, when they mean "slow growth")
As with most things in America, we've gotten carried away.
Mitch

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Good topic, BTW.
I agree .. and disagree to a lesser extent.
While I've recently had the opportunity to closely examine many 100 year old A&C pieces, and in every case the medullary rays were commonly prominent in the boards with the face showing (providing the finish allowed), I do agree that there is an unreasonable effort today to show the figure, particularly when you see modern efforts to "quarter" the legs so that the rays show on all sides ... totally unnecessary and unreasonable, IMO, but something the magazine 'experts" seem to constantly harp upon as being important.
That said, use quarter sawn wood for its dimensional stability, which was definitely a factor in its use during that time, and you are going to get the rays whether you want them or not.
I buy QSWO for both its appearance and its dimensional stability, take same time to put the best grain out, match it the best I can with what I have on hand, and don't worry too much if the rift sawn grain you get in every load show up in the projects.
IOW, I use what is on hand and available ... and would bet that _is_ in keeping with the method, purpose, and tradition of the early A&C movement ... regardless of how much figure shows in the end piece.
In the end, maybe the "finishing" side of the equation is more at the root of what you perceive to be a problem?
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 7/28/03
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.