Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Featured Project - Latest Piece

Bob's Cabinet

Pine and Brass Hardware

If you will allow me, I would like to start by paraphrasing a quote from James Krenov out of his book A Cabinetmakers Notebook - A person who works this way will say “Look”, but he is more likely to add, “Closely please”.
Closeup of figured pine in side panels

It is my hope that, for people who view this, my latest cabinet, it will be easy, to appreciate the beauty in its simplistic design. I will say that with Pine, it is not easy to draw attention to design details. The gentle transitions of color within the grain patterns are easy for the eye to lose track of, and any embellishment would further distract from the intended experience. I also hope that you will agree with the subtle design decisions. The countless design decisions made along this cabinet’s path to completion do not arise in the mass production furniture world, and the consequences that result from their absence speak their own language. A language comprised not of words or symbols, but of sensitivities.

Raised Panel and Knob detail

Just as it is difficult to completely appreciate a musical score to which the lyrics are in a foreign language, it is extremely difficult to appreciate certain details of wooden objects when the work is done in a different language. From one piece to the next, so many of the same elements can be similar, such as similar proportions and/or functionality, but the results can be starkly different on a deeper level. To make the correct design decisions, you must be fluent in the language. This goes beyond the ability to read or write or speak in that language, scribing lifeless symbols and muttering away, to the deeper meaning of the message that is conveyed through the tone and emphasis with which the message is delivered. Therefore in order for authors and poets, and it this case, craftsmen, to convey their message accurately across these barriers, they must break the message down to into a form that is easily understood. That’s what I wish this cabinet to represent, a simple expression of complex concepts to be appreciated by all. It is easy to appreciate the beauty because of the harmony with which the elements interact.

Side view of Half-Blind Dovetailed drawer

Most people who have seen the work of James Krenov would see not similarities between his work and this cabinet. The most important thing, for him and for I, is not that the results bring the same level of joy, but the “doing” and the “method” and the “logic” should reflect the sensitivities of the craftsman. The work produced should be consistent with the individual doing the work. No compromises, be consistent. This is what lies deep within my heart and it is my goal to convey that through Wisp Woods. I understand that not all will agree, and projects could be produced faster by other methods, by making compromises, small at first and growing as they affect other decisions further down the road, but I need not the approval of all, only the inner satisfaction of a job done well, consistently guided by what lies within and what is uncovered when working one Wisp of Wood at a time.


And look closely, please.

David J. Ulschmid
Designer / Craftsman
~ Wisp Woods ~
Arlington, SD 57212
The happy craftsman!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Featured Project - Tall Table

This table has recently been honored with the highest form of admiration, a request for a new table to be made in its image. At the left there is a poll that gives you a chance to, in a way provide me with feedback about my work, and, more importantly, to help me set a price for my work. I appreciate your help and value your opinion.

Pine and Mahogany Tall Table

Detail of Table Top with Mahogany strips

A look from below, notice the apron beading.

Truly special coloring for Pine to have.

Another view of the coloring.

Now this is what I want you to ponder, are these bits of color flaws or do they enhance the beauty of the piece? When I ponder this, something I heard on the radio comes to mind. The quote was something like "The only difference between poison and medicine is the dosage". I personally really enjoy the bits of color in this wood, but I wouldn't as much if they were darker or more prevalent. They are just enough to be pleasing but not enough to be annoying, or poison for the eye.

I, of course, can take no credit for the beauty of this wood, only the capturing of it. You see, this project didn't start out on a presumptuous foot, with me going to a lumber supplier and asking for the nicest wood they had because, “I think I'm a great woodworker and therefore should only use the best stock“. No. This project had much more humble beginnings.

Those legs that I have been boasting about, with their unique inclusions of random bits of color, in a destiny kinda way, those legs sought me out. I was not the person to purchase the lumber from which they came and becoming table legs was not the original purpose. They came from a piece of 2x10 construction lumber, which a friend of mine was using for storage shelving. When he moved, he asked me if I wanted them, and I am a sucker for free wood.

The wood came to my shop and awaited a purpose, until the day my wife requested a tall table for her art booth at an upcoming show. The show was two days away! A couple longs nights in the shop filled with discovery and excitement upon finding this coloring, and the table was complete.

The joinery, quickly but not hastily done, has held up to being thrown into the trunk of a car and bounced down the road while being squeezed by the trunk lid. The beads cut in the aprons with my custom scratch stock have drawn the interest of may people at my wife's art exhibits. I am proud of the work and excited to show, to anyone who will listen, the parts of it that make it special to me. Thanks for reading.

God Bless.

David J. Ulschmid
~ Wisp Woods ~

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