Monday, May 11, 2009

Why Things Are the Way Things Are

Have you ever wondered why a thing looks the way it does? Operates the way it does? Maybe not. Maybe I'm the only one who ever thought about this stuff, but I doubt it.

Anyway, I'm going to explain why one of my designs was, well... designed the way it was, and then I'm going to attempt to explain someone else's designs without asking them about it. I may be crawling out on an exceptionally fragile limb, here, but I figure I can control the danger somewhat by sticking to my own field of expertise: woodworking.

So, here's my own design. It's a candle holder made out of bird's eye maple. It holds seven candles and sells for $110.00. It's a one-of-a-kind piece.

This project is an outgrowth of my original candle holder design, made of bird’s eye maple instead of pine. It's rectangular instead of square, and it holds seven candles instead of four, but it is otherwise identical in construction. The idea was to make a little fire-pit to be used indoors. The idea was to show off the wood, not my joinery skills.

Like the original the table top is made by laminating two pieces. The bottom piece lacked much of that feature most prized in bird’s eye maple, so I didn’t mind hiding it.

When I made this piece my old drill press had just died on me. These holes were actually drilled out by hand with a drill-driver and a 1 7/8” Forstner bit. That took two days. They really aren’t kidding when they say bird’s eye maple is a hardwood.

The point is that it was worth the effort. I love this piece. The wood just sings, begs to be touched. I've had several people ask about it, three or four get excited about buying it, but no one has pulled the trigger on the deal yet. And I'm not concerned. There is a home for this little indoor fire-pit. After it sells I will probably build something similar because I think it's a pretty cool idea.

And now let's look at "Black Limba" by Henderson Wood Craft. This is a wall hanging, and Henderson Wood Craft has this to say about it:

"This set of wall panels are made from a combination of African Black Limba, Yellow Heart, Ebony Alowood and Bloodwood. Each panel measures 17 x 17 in. They are finished in a polyurethane semi-gloss. The set is designed to hang vertical or horizontal with a 3/4 in. standoff."

On Saturday, May 9, 2009, my wife and I visited the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. This museum is known for it's wonderful collection of Remington and Russell paintings and sculptures, but one piece that jumped out at me was by... well, someone who's name isn't jumping out at me right now. It was a collage, made entirely of reclaimed wood. I'm certain I've never seen another one like it. If you're ever in the area, this piece is hanging in the lobby near the gift shop.

The point of that piece, I'm sure, is to show off the beauty of the weather-beaten wood. In that respect the piece is a enormous success. The point of this piece by Henderson Wood Craft, I'm certain, is to do the same thing, and it is just as successful as the piece I saw in the museum.

I try to show off the wood I use -- even when it's a lowly slab of pine -- in every candle holder or wine rest or whatever that I build. Henderson Wood Craft does the same thing with their tables, wall hangings and everything else I've seen from this designer. They let the beauty of the wood shine. Good design is sometimes the design you don't notice right away. Good design in woodworking is the design that puts the wonderful figure of maple, red heart, black walnut, bubinga, cherry, bloodwood and African Black Limba in the best light, showing off what Mother Nature has already done for us. These designs deserve to be seen and purchased and displayed prominently across the globe.

Here are some other pieces from Henderson Wood Craft. The beauty of the best natural material on Earth shines in these two furniture selections and one more wall hanging.


I sincerely hope I have done justice to Henderson Wood Craft in this article. I would love to hear from someone there, either father or son (both?). And I'd love to hear from everyone who reads this. What do you think about the pieces on display here? And what do you think of my evaluation of them?


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Unknown said...

Thank you for your review. Your understanding of wood and your appreciation of our designs validate our philosophy of what we do and how we do it. Your ability to put into words what we can only express through our pieces is enviable and welcome.
Henderson Wood Craft

Jay Neale III said...

Wow! You're very welcome! And thank you for the review of my review! Your work is beyond beautiful.


The Henderson's work in wood is a true art!

Wonderfully informative article, Jay!

Ellen said...

Great article Jay and the Henderson Wood Craft pieces are so interesting, I have a perfect place for the one with red! I love the 7 candle fire pit, that wood is exquisite! Thanks for the beautiful work both of you.


Jay Neale III said...

And thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts here, Ellen! I'm sure the fine folks at Henderson Wood Craft appreciate it, and I know I do.

Unknown said...

Thank you Ellen - we ship!

Unknown said...

Love this simple and stunning candle holder... I have so beautiful candle holder and recently got wonderful set of candles from Colonial Candle...

PeggySue said...

Very beautiful presentations of the awesome characteristics of wood. The organic nature combined with the linear highlights is nice! Thanks for sharing Jay!

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