Thursday, April 30, 2009

Baroque Furniture

Baroque Furniture

Baroque furniture and design started in Italy around the 1600's. It soon spread all throughout western Europe and became the style of furniture that royalty favored. In France the Palace at Versailles and the Louvre were both decorated by this extravagant and impressive style. After the great fire in England King Charles II appointed Christopher Wren as surveyor to his court. Wren was a big fan of the French baroque style and used it to decorate much of the new palace. In Spain the Baroque style was much over exaggerated and used in catholic churches.
Characteristics of Baroque furniture and design are the large scale, bold details, lots of ovals, sweeping and curved surfaces, c and s scrolls, shell motifs, cartouches, subtle use of color, decoration,
and sculpture, and acanthus leaves. Furniture also included precious metals, inlays, and upholstery. The furniture that was made could be anything including mirrors, cabinets, vanities, beds, chests, and entire palaces would be filled with all sorts of baroque furniture. The style was often used as a total work of art. The result is a sensory overload when you walk into a baroque style room. There is so much to look at and you can't help but appreciate the craftsmanship and time it must have taken to create such elegant furniture. I have seen some baroque furniture at the Pitti Palace in Florence and also at the Marie Antoinette exhibition last year at the Palace of the legion of Honor. I really enjoyed the beauty of it and wanted to take a vanity and small table home, but of course they are all priceless. You can still buy recreations today.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Six in-class work days left.

Just a heads-up here, folks. We have six in-class work days left. And May 5 won't be a work day because that is the day we have our visiting artist, David Jackson. He will be demoing sharpening techniques, some Japanese hand tools, and I have requested that he talk to us about softwoods. I will be trying to track down some Port Orford Cedar and some Alaskan Yellow Cedar before he comes. I'm very excited about his lecture and his demo. Everyone had better practice getting to class on time before his visit.
Tomorrow, Monday, everyone should be marking out their tenons and cutting them. I will demo this at the beginning of class.

Wood for Outdoor Furniture

Building an outdoor piece has definitely crossed my mind.  And, there are several questions that one needs to consider (what type? durability? strength? future care? etc.)  The options for outdoor wood are actually more eclectic than you might think, although it does seem like many of your "options" may be out of the question depending on how much you would want to spend.  Many of these "outdoor" woods are of the exotic type.  These include varieties such as Teak (South East Asia), Jarrah (Austrailia), Shorea (Malaysia and Indocesia), Roble (South America), and Tropical Eucalyptis (Austrailia).   Domestic varieties include Redwood, Cedar, Willow and other types with pliable branches (mainly used for bending), and most surprisingly of all, Pine.  This is surprising because it is a soft wood and has low rot resistance.  Regular painting or staining is required and definitely seems to be an ongoing project.  It is also not a good idea to keep pine furniture outdoors in the winter due to its weaker tolerance to the elements.  Now having said all this and considering the high demand for maintenance, building a piece solely for outdoor use may be out of the question.  Furthermore, still considering the type of wood I would like to use, Pine seems like a good bet.  (I know it's late to be buying wood still, but pay checks only come twice a month.)  Having said that, Pine is inexpensive, readily available, and most importantly, easy to work with.  And, if i really wanted, I could use a new pine table next to my Weber during the summer months.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

William Morris

The Arts and Crafts Movement was founded by William Morris. This movement was brought on by the dissatisfaction with the quality of work produced by the industrial revolution. Morris felt felt that mass-produced objects destroyed the relationship between designer and craftsman and he wanted reinstate the importance of handcrafted, functional, objects. As a designer he wanted to reinstate the connection between the craftsmen and designers. he felt that if he brought them together created a closer working relationship between the two the work would be of better quality. Morris, along with other leaders of the Arts and Crafts movement valued work that was true to the natural beauty of the materials, as well as simplified design aesthetics and the evidence of the craftsman’s hand. Craftsmen from this period were informed by the styling of the late Gothic and early renaissance, as many of them including Morris, studied under Gothic revivalists. Morris along with other followers of the movement incorporated natural forms into their designs.
Morris envisioned a socialist leaning doctrine wanting to create affordable and practical hand crafted objects for everyday use in the homes of the middle class. More importantly, Morris wanted to use smaller more personalized production to give workers enjoyable jobs where they could be take on creative and challenging projects with pride. Often graced with the prestigious title "Father of the lazy boy" Morris' adjustable back chair was the first of its kind. Since Morris, the arts and crafts movement became very diverse, with a wide range of influences and stylistic elements; in fact, proponents of the movement would even discourage its categorization as a style

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Victorian Architecture

Victorian architecture started in the 1800's during the Gothic revival era around the time Queen Victoria ruled England. At first only the very wealthy could afford to build this style of house because it involved the skills of highly trained stone carvers. Eventually the style was translated into wood. Early Victorian architecture in England was considered the be a failure. Victorian architecture in America on the other hand was very successful. The Victorian architectural period is from roughly 1825-1900. Nature and geometry greatly inspired the Victorians and it translates well into the architecture that they produced. The houses started off simple and eventually escalated to very intricate. Later designs were greatly influenced by the civil war.
Within Victorian architecture were many collective styles including Italianate, Second Empire, Stick-Eastlake, and Queen Anne. Italianate is characterized by flat roofs and Corinthian-columned porches. Stick-Eastlake also had flat roof lines but included square bay windows and free-style decoration. Queen Annes have gabbled roofs with shingles, angled bay windows, and towers. The Victorian style of architecture flourished in San Francisco like no other place. In other parts of the world it was considered to be over decorative and cluttered, but here it was considered beautiful. This can be attibuted to the abundance of redwwod trees which were used to biuld the homes in Northern California. Redwood is easy to work with and resists rot and termites. Most of the Northern Californian houses were built between 1870 and 1906. One of the most famous characteristics of the San Francisco Victorian houses is the vibrant colors used to paint the outside.
The interiors of the Victorian houses reflected their extravagant exteriors. Usually they were decorated with the Italian/Renaissance style or the Medival/Queen Anne style. They had elaborate ceilings, marble fireplaces, gold framed mirrors, and sometimes pediments and fancy door frames. The later part of the Victorian era turned away from clutter and replaced the fancy layered and upholstered furniture with natural wood furniture. Soon cheaper materials took the place of extravagance. You can still see Victorian homes when you drive around the bay area today. My favorite collection of Victorian houses is in History Park in San Jose. You can walk around a preserved part of San Jose that is open to the public. The website for the museum is

Thank you for reading my blog, Catherine.

most of the information for this blog was found at

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

interesting summer fashions using everyday power tools

Over the course of spring break i learned what the general safety rules for our shop as well as any shop meant when they said to tie your hair back TIGHTLY. I stress the word tightly here for good reason. Last Wednesday my co worker and i were breaking out some investment using a power drill. Because the Batt was still hot i had to hold it with kiln gloves and routinely douse the bit with water while he broke out the investment. While he was working the drill i decided to get in just a little too close and take a look at the bit. That's when a loose strand of hair got caught in the drill and it started to pull more hair in with it.

This is the result:

A stylish new look for summer that just screams i want to start middle age early! Were not just talking red Ferrari and new girlfriend middle age were talking pious and chaste.

Anyway the point here is follow the safety precautions. More importantly, after working for a long period of time it's easy to get comfortable and even caviler with what you are doing, that's okay, but you should always stay focused on whats going on in front of you. I notice my mind wandering to other things all the time when working on projects, especially on the repetitive aspects that Ive done a thousand times over, that's when accidents usually happen. This is mostly redundant information but i felt it would be an appropriate blog response. I couldn't find the schools shop safety rules on line so i just looked up some general shop saftey rules on google:

1. You must don safety glasses, cover goggles, or face shields
before entering the shop.
2. Shoes must be worn in the shop. No one wearing sandals
will be allowed to enter any shop area. The minimum
footwear must cover the entire foot.
3. Do not operate any equipment unless you are familiar with its
operation and have been authorized to operate it. Questions
regarding the use of equipment should be directed to the shop
4. No work may be performed using power tools unless at least
two people are in the shop area and can see each other.
5. Use the shop vacuum cleaner to remove chips. Never use
compressed air guns to clean clothing and hair.
6. In case of injury, no matter how slight, report it to the shop
supervisor. The campus emergency phone number is 9-911.
7. Contact with harmful chemicals should be reported
immediately Notify campus rescue at 9-911.
8. Machines must be shut off and locked-out before servicing.
9. Do not wear ties, loose clothing, jewelry, gloves, etc. when
operating shop equipment and tie back long hair.

10. Wear appropriate clothing for the job (i.e. do not wear short
sleeve shirts or short pants when welding).
11. Do not work in the shop if you are tired, or in a hurry.
12. Never indulge in horseplay in the shop areas.
13. All machines must be operated with all guards and shields in
14. Do not use your bare hands to remove chips and shavings
from the machine, use a brush or hook.
15. Never use a rag near moving machinery.
16. Do not strike a hardened tool or any machine with a hammer.
17. Practice cleanliness and orderliness in the shop areas. Use
the shop vacuum cleaner. Clean-up before you leave!
18. Keep the floor around machines clean, dry and free from trip
hazards. Do not allow chips to accumulate. Use the shop
vacuum cleaner.
19. Think through the entire job before starting.
20. Before starting a machine, always check it for correct setup
and always check to see if the machine is clear.
21. Do not drink alcoholic beverages before or during a work
session in the machine shop area. Do not bring food/snacks
into the shop.
22. Don’t rush or take chances. Obey all safety rules.
23. If you have not worked with a particular material before,
check the materials safety data sheet (M.S.D.S.) for any
specific precautions to be taken while working with the
material. Also, ask the shop personnel before cutting any
unusual material.
24. Heavy sanding and painting should only be done in well
ventilated areas.
25. Follow all appropriate precautions when working with
solvents, paints, adhesives or other chemicals. Use
appropriate protective equipment. Review the M.S.D.S.
26. Check the condition of power cords and plugs on portable
tools before using them. Do not use a tool that has a worn or
damaged power cord/plug.
27. Always store oily rags in an approved metal container.