Author Topic: RE: Spring 2007 Meeting Report  (Read 2260 times)

David Conley

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RE: Spring 2007 Meeting Report
« on: April 09, 2007, 09:13:33 PM »
Society of American Period Furniture Makers
Ohio River Valley Chapter
2007 Spring Meeting

I am proud to say that we had another wonderful chapter meeting in Lancaster, OH.  Everyone enjoyed the presentations, camaraderie, weenie roast, and hay ride.  We had approximately 32 people attend from IN, MI, WV, VA, KY and OH.     
A very special thanks to Brian and Kindra Neeley for being such wonderful hosts and opening up their home and shop to us, again!!  They also took care of all the logistics including lunches, dinner and the hotel.  Thanks to Brian’s parents David & Carola for helping out and making the meeting a success.  Finally thanks to Brian’s Aunt Janice who made the wonder homemade pies.

As always, I would like to thank each presenter for stepping up and doing a great job!!  In addition, we had a lot of lively discussions during the presentations.  Again, a BIG THANK YOU to all of the presenters and to all those who added to the discussions.
For Show & Tell, we had some very nice and unique pieces including a Pennsylvania Spice Box, a tea caddy, a beautiful 6 board tiger maple chest, a formal gilded mirror with inlays, and a discussion on making a chest of drawer. 

The demonstrations started out with Charles Murray discussing hand plane including the history dating back to Roman planes.  These early hand planes used a wedge to hold the plane irons and are very similar to the ones used up until the 20th century.  In the late quarter of the 19th century an explosion in the design of planes occurred as inexpensive cast-iron bodies became available.  Today, we are much more familiar with this style.  The discussion then changed to choosing the right plane for a given task, such as: roughing planes, try planes, smoothing planes and jointing planes.  Also, we discussed the effective bedding angle from the Common 45, the York 50, Middle 55, to the Half 60-degrees and how it affect the planning action.

The second and third demonstrations were by George Walker on “Unlocking the secrets of traditional design.”  These demonstrations will probably have a more profound impact on my future woodworking projects then most other demonstration I have seen.  The reason is that I like to design my own furniture.  But, the questions I always had was how do you size a piece of furniture so it looks good?  I have made some things that just look clunky.  George’s presentation turned the light bulb on for me.  The trick is using the ancient methods of classical architecture.  Today, we have lost that classical style and we are trying to relearn it.  Just as the 18th century masters were relearning it from the renaissance artists, and the renaissance artists (Leonardo) were relearning it from the Romans, and the Romans (Vitruvius) were relearning it from the Greeks.  It probably started before the Greeks, but it was Pythagoras who first put it down on paper.  He wrote about the concept of simple proportions using whole numbers.  These proportions also had a connection with nature: Mathematically and Musically (a 1:2 ratio is an octave), and Aesthetically.   Using musical notes, Pythagoras determined a few aesthetically superior ratios and they were: 1:2, 2:3, 3:4, 3:5, and 4:5.  These ratios ring out as musical cords.  These ratios were also use in architecture and furniture.  In addition to the Classical Ratios, we also discussed the classical columns and how they were developed and used to set the vertical proportions of a piece.  The next revelation in design, came in understanding the main tools to do these layouts were not rulers, but a set of dividers.  Once you set your dividers and/or determine the base unit for a piece, everything else just flows from that unit.  Next we broke up into small groups and using our dividers, we started dissecting some 18th century pieces of furniture.  It was amazing how close the furniture followed the classical columns and ratios.  For those who missed this presentation or want to see it again, George will be making a DVD for Lie-Nielsen and should be out within the next year.  I know I will be one of the first in line to get my copy.   

The final demonstration was on carving a Newport Ball & Claw by Brooke Smith.  As usual, Brooke did an excellent job showing the basic outline of how to carve the ball & claw in the Newport style and even the difference between John Townsend and John Goddard.  The Newport B&C presented a few challenges of its own beside the obvious undercut of the open talons.  The first challenge that Brooke faced was looking at photos and determining the correct proportions for the B&C.  In his first test piece, he didn’t get the proportions quite right.  But by doing the test piece and by looking at his photos, he knew what changes were needed to make it look right.  Again, the importance of doing a test piece and having an adequate number of quality photos was stressed and is essential in developing a carving from scratch.  The carvings themselves are difficult because so much of the ball is exposed, especially at the top.  This presented interesting challenges in carving the interfaces between the foot, the ball and the claws.  Brooke finished the demonstration by undercutting of one of the talons with a knife.   

As with all of the Chapter meetings, I am continually impressed with the accumulated knowledge and talent we have in our group.  The quality and educational value of these demonstrations are on par with the best conferences out there.  Our size allows us to get up close and personal with the presenters.  It was truly another wonderful experience sharing knowledge and fellowship.

The Fall 2007 meeting is scheduled for the weekend of October 27 & 28, 2007 at Wood Werks, in Columbus, OH.  The agenda will be posted on the Forum.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2007, 09:19:29 PM by David Conley »