Yet Another Design Consideration

In addition to proportions, functionality, wood selection, grain direction, joinery selection and finish, there's another unmeasurable, unquantifiable "dimension" that can enter into the design considerations - chatoyancy.
HUH?
You know - that thing that stones like tiger eye and star saphires have - a built in dynamism that changes as the stone moves or as you move around and over it. In wood, you think of tiger, flame and quilted maple - nature's holograms. A nice flat board appears to be the surface of slow boiling maple syrup or wavy like sand dunes. Dark areas turn light as you move around the board while light areas turn dark.
And Mother Nature didn't limit this chatoyancy thing to just maple - it turns up in all kinds of wood. But sometimes the effect only works when viewed a certain way And that's where things can get tricky. Orient the wood the wrong way or place it too high or too low and only very tall or very short people will notice. While it's laying flat on the bench, with a light diresctly overhead, a board may look amazing Get it oriented the way it'll be in the actual piece and at the height it will ultimately be at and that really interesting piece of wood ...
Case in point - the visible sides of the side by side LP albums cabinet my son and I are working on (third image on this page)
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/ChasCab/ChasCab3.html
Intersting yes? Put them vertical on the floor and all that interest just about disappears. I'm suggesting he get some bean bag chairs so seated guests will notice the wonders of this stuff. After all, Studio Furniture sometimes requires that the viewer be controlled by The Piece : ).
This could explain why James Krenov puts his wonderful little cabinets up on tall spindly legs. Now if I can talk Chas into putting legs on these things and forget his original design objectives ...
Just another thing to think about when working with active wood.
charlie b
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<snip>

I thought he WANTED the cabinet to just sort of disappear. Or was it that he wanted the largest possible figured maple puzzle box?
The combination that boggles me is "studio furniture" + "male college student" + "shared apartment".
The other consideration is that (spindly legs) + (a significant LP collection) + (large puzzle cabinet) is going to likely have a welding machine somewhere in the solution, ;-) And still not be seismically stable.
Keep this dialog going, please. I enjoy the view from here.
Patriarch, who believes that there is a reason most college bookshelves built using concrete blocks....
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"patriarch wrote in message

Forgot about that aspect of college/early married life until I was moving my youngest daughter into her college dorm a couple of weeks back.
Fathers, mainly, were carrying concrete blocks up stairs and into elevators by the hundreds as if the building itself was suddenly a magnet for all the concrete blocks in every direction, or they were some sort of odd sacrificial offerings to the dorm gods ... makes you wonder if the designer of the building took that static loading into account.
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A great bit of prose, Swingman. Thanks.
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"patriarch wrote in message

Forgot about that aspect of college/early married life until I was moving my youngest daughter into her college dorm a couple of weeks back.
Fathers, mainly, were carrying concrete blocks up stairs and into elevators by the hundreds as if the building itself was suddenly a magnet for all the concrete blocks in every direction, or they were some sort of odd sacrificial offerings to the dorm gods ... makes you wonder if the designer of the building took that static loading into account.
--
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So there's a wholistic approach to design once must master before becoming a master. Guess that means its a lifelong learning process.
But this starts more of a "is it furniture or is it art?" debate in my mind. With Art, I have some/more control over the display context that I don't think I have with furniture. Even furniture tailored for a certain room decor, illumination can be moved.
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| | ...into the design considerations - chatoyancy.
Is *that* what you call it? Fantastic! Now I have word for that quality I've been trying like mad to achieve with combinations of wood and finish.
It's ironic. I've been playing around with various woods and finishes trying to see what would produce and preserve the three-dimensional dynamic texture of the surface. No luck, until recently.
I am associated with a professional theater in town where I live, and in a production of 1776 I discovered that the director wanted all the men to carry walking sticks, only the theater did not have enough to go round. Not only that, renting and borrowing from other theaters didn't satisfy the demand. So with the director's permission, down to the shop I went.
I eventually turned about twenty individual 18th century walking stick caps which I placed on standard dowels that I had tapered. Not the best work, of course, but props are props. The key to making props is not to spend too much time or money on them. They only have to look good and stand up to a certain amount of abuse. They don't have to be works of art.
I had a stack of framing members from a pipe organ console -- three inches or so square in cross section -- of some mahogany-like wood. I didn't really pay attention to the species. But it turns out these pieces made wonderful turning stock for small walking sticks. That plus an abundance of various oak species filled out the set. To make them more individual, I dumped random combinations of TransTint dyes into a running jar of alcohol and then sprayed each one with a couple of coats of Deft lacquer from the can. Basically as fast and as cheap a finish as I could manage.
Lo and behold, some of these caps made from the Mystery Mahogany started to shimmer and move under the lights in fantastic and beautiful ways. And of course I got lots of kudos for my "superior" workmanship on them. I guess it shows I need to spend more time experimenting and less time trying to get all cerebral about it.
--Jay
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<snip>

I think potentially therein lies a lesson for us all...
Patriarch
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Jay Windley wrote:

SNIP
I

Here's how the chatoyancy thing works in wood. Imagine you've got straws oriented as shown in the ASCII diagram below. Stains, penetrating oils and other finishes can get sucked into the ends of the straws but can only thinly coat the sides of the straws. The more the depth of stain, oil or other finish you're looking into the darker it appears.
In the example below, as your eye travels left to right you see the side of the straw with little if any stain or finish on it. When you get to the right leaning grain it appears a little darker than the "side of the straw" grain. Looking straight down into the straws things get even darker as does the left leaning grain. Then it's back to the side of the straw grain which appears very light next to the darker left leaning grain. So going left to right you see Light, Dark, Darker, Darkest, Light. When your eye travels right to left, what was the darkest is now just dark and what was just dark is now the darkest.
--> 1 2 3 4 1 1 4 3 2 1 <--- -----////||||\\\\----- ----////||||\\\\----- ----/////|||| \\\\----- ----/////|||| \\\\-----
The fun and games with finding a finish that shows off the figure is keeping track of what worked. Going at it willy nilly may get you something really striking. But duplicating the results later on similar parts can be an exercise in frustration.
When you have a repeatable formula for the finish you really liked - how about posting it here?
This woodworking thing is always interesting and often fun.
charlie b
charlie b
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wrote:

mmm - sounds a little like my latest efforts to finish a pedestal. Made of maple laminate on MDF. Tried a 1.5 - 2 pound garnet shellac with yellowish brown and reddish brown mixed. Tinting strength very high. Results abysmal!!
James snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com
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