Friday, July 30, 2010

Stick Chair , more alder fantasies

Having done two stools, I thought I was ready for a chair. So, here beginneth the episode of the alder chair. I selected some alder. Now alder, I have remarked, is remarkably strong. But is is never, never, straight. Well, I thought, there is worse than that masquerading as "sculpture" in the MOMA.
Here the back legs are held in an invaluable "Alexander jig," a birdsmouth thing tensioned by rope and toggle. It allows you to rotate the legs till you get the desired effet. I am getting ready to drill the holes to connect to the front ones. Doing that gives us...
The next step is to connect front and back legs with rungs. I had just pruned my lilac tree (too big to call a "bush") so why not use it for rungs? Above you see Mr Chair still in his jig, with lilac rungs, ready for the next step. To wit, now mark out and drill the holes for the cross-rungs, joining across the two sides. Then we tap (actually, pound) the whole thing together with a mallet. Now, if I've done my job right, I've shaved the rungs to a "white knuckle" fit in the hole. So they won't go in very far. Just as with the stool, we subject Chair to torture. We have ways...
After sufficient moral persuasion is applied (the turn of the screw, as it were) Chair allows as how he will fit. Love the scritch sound of mortise going into tenon. Hate the cracking sound that means it split. I had to remake one front leg, split at the top. You can see I have started to put in the back supports, also lilac. I took pictures as I remembered, not as I should for a real tutorial. (I have yet to figure out all the modes on my new camera. Nikon supplies the user's guide on CD. This may save Nikon money, but it means I have to go through a rigamarole to read the user's guide. )

And finally...
In retrospect, I should have looked at it more closely when it was in its jig. The back is crooked. Well, it's all crooked! Meant to be. Art is neither straight nor square. I'll let it dry out a while, then rack it some more. Torture solves some problems, all right. But it is the first stick chair I ever made; indeed the first chair period. So cut me some slack; remember the Guggenheim has some strange things indeed in it. And we learn more from mistakes than we do from successes.

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