Trestle Table in Black Walnut

Discovering Design

The discovery of the life within the wood and the relationships they form is exciting to uncover. The early decisions are heavy. Every other act in the process is a response to these chalk marks as they try to hear and echo this walnut tree’s voice.

Underpinning Art with Discipline

The romance of the craft is backed up by countless hours of “mundane” work- the discipline that builds skill, and makes up the real life of labor. Days are spent creeping up on this scribed relationship and the foundational joinery. It’s a blessing to work, and to rest in the presence, at the same while striving towards the goal. Don’t mistake me, I’ve only had enough meager success at it to know it’s possible. 

Technology – Joinery

One side of the natural edge was curving away on bottom edge so I had to cut a shallow rebate in order to have a solid joint as well as cleanly scribed edge. This edge was reinforced with dominoes. The opposing edge curved towards the bottom edge and could be cut square. For it I made a floating contoured spline from Baltic birch. Assembled dry all is tight and solid.

Visualize and Establish Form

Finding a way to visualize the elements in a design is an engaging challenge. Krenov spoke of “composing”, and I’ve adopted his method and language -clamping up and mocking up relationships as the process moves forward. I don’t recall if he used tape, but I recently switched from using blue tape to white tape to mask off shapes- the difference is remarkable. 

Labor – Engaging Harvest

The last bit of joinery for the individual trestles is the horizontal rail completing the “H” form, which will eventually carry the longer rail that will join the two trestles together.

I’m grateful for this job, this material, this process. I heard a song that had a line which proclaimed “I am the record of His grace”.

The Sacred Process

The Sacred Process

Is labor a sacrament?  The invitation of the Eighth Day?  A sacred collaboration with the living God?  I can’t help but to note that the call to labor in the garden came before the curse of toil.  I am certain that labor is about more than just earning my bread.  There is something deeper there, not just for the artist, but for the ditch digger and the roofer, the farmer and the nurse.  “Whatever you think, it’s more than that…”  ISB.

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The Rich Story of Carved Lines

Usually the prints I make are deeply personal illustrations of my heart, vision and journey.  From the early days printmaking has been, to me, a form of prayer, offering up to the Father layers of concern and expression of things I do not often fully comprehend.  Within that context is a platform to explore the visualization of spiritual concepts, revelations and principles- basically a blundering effort to make the unseen seen on some level.  I wonder that I am taken up with making a “graven image”  and how that settles with the second commandment (Exodus 20 verse 4 if you are interested).  Hopefully, what I am making are objects that are doors or windows that might lead one into worship, certainly they are far from worshipful in themselves.  I take comfort that the Merciful One will ultimately be the judge of my heart on this one.

These images here, are a divergence in a way, in that, they are the mixture of my expression and visual language with the story and purpose of two other entities.  The first of those is Matt Eich of Mule Resophonic GuitarsHe has been building these beautifully crafted and, by all accounts, almost magically sounding guitars for five years now.  The resulting print will be the certificate of authenticity that will be presented with every instrument that he sells.  Matt is passionate about story and building rich relationships with his customers, and he invests personal expression into every instrument.  His sense of story has been woven together with mine here, I hope.

On a technical level, I am always in an attempt to push myself past where I was before in my work. It may only be in a way that is visible to my own eye. With printmaking I compose a design and I wonder if I will be able to pull it off- if the level of detail will translate as a small mammal, or a vine, or a bird- or just a confused tangle of ink. Many times it has resulted in the confused tangle. This print for Matt has tons of this risk built into the design, and I think his spirit has elevated me, because I somehow feel a door has been unlocked.  Of course, I really won’t know until the ink hits the paper- but there is hope that these tiny branches will be able to speak.

The second entity is the musical trio Sister Sinjin.  My good friend Elizabeth Duffy is part of this group of women who sing devotedly to the glory and love of God.  This image from this block will become the cover art for their upcoming record.  The contemplative spirit of their music really seems to offer a counterpoint to the industrious detail of the print I’m making for Matt.  I’ve noticed and appreciated the contrast as I have been working back and forth between these two blocks.  The quite offering of the woman and the persistent labor of the plowman.  Both have offered a lot of opportunity to grow and develop and express, and I am grateful.  There are many photographs of the carving process below, which is still underway in both cases, though I am nearly done with the Sister Sinjin block.

Walnut Timber Mantelpiece

The six and a half inch thick, 13 foot long walnut slab filled the shop as it came from the chainsaw mill.

Beam cutter on the old worm-drive

“rough-sawn” to the max

Using the “beam-cutter” to rip the slab into a six inch square timber

Pulling the saw at the end of the cut to save the last bit of slab for the corbels

Aluminum C-channel as a guide

start of the smoothing

a jack plane with a radius set to take heavy shavings

Now the joiner

pretty obvious

chopping out for a patch over a rotten knot

the same, fitted

filing the edges of a little copper butterfly template

bench-top with tools for making butterfly templates

variety of butterfly templates

Scribing the timber for butterflies to bind the main check

Routing out the waste

chopping the rest

right up to the knife line

ready for the joining

carving the corbels (my documentation fell off for most of this process)

mating the various natural edges of the corbels to the mantel

a little further back

fitting the opposite corbel

rough-cut cove on the left corbel

both corbels with coves-cut and awaiting final shaping

apply the final touches on the ends of the timber

“C” for the covenant

installed over the fire box, and the home-owner’s sandstone work.

I look forward to seeing it with the stone work done