My first chair was created out of curiosity – what to do on a cold dark winters night, in front of the fire, with minimal materials and tools?
I had been reading about craftsmen using the most basic tools to create objects of beauty and practical application. John Surlis and his Leitrim chair really struck a cord – I was awed by the simple beauty and elegance of his creation – I wanted to make a chair. But, could it be done without an axe, or shave horse? I only had a handsaw, pocket knife, and a bit and brace. So, I read some more and then set to.
Having selected some Hazel, which was very green, I began to cut, whittle and drill, without any clear plan – trusting in the materials and tools to take me where I wanted to go.
I ended up with this:
I still have this chair. Of all the chairs I have made over the years it is still my favourite. That chair taught me what to and what not to do – what I could and could not do – what I needed to learn and practice. It is very rough and ready, and not the most comfortable. But, it is very sturdy, functional, and actually, to my eyes, quite beautiful in its shabby roughness.
I like to think I have progressed a little since then!
But, sometimes, I look at it and it grounds me, and returns me to where I need to be.