As I grow older I realise I am a tiny insignificant spec in a whirling multitude of humanity, and, as if to reinforce this realisation, my earliest, and my most cherished, memories are slowly starting to fade.
At times it seems like all the colour has drained from the images held on cerebral celluloid, leaving only washed out black and white images with not even a hint of sepia to embellish them – and the sting of loss takes over from the awe of the beautiful, the joy of seeing, feeling, touching and listening to beauty.
I’ve been contemplating how simple, everyday, mundane things such as smells, sounds (especially music) and physical objects (little treasures) can reanimate thoughts, emotions, and child-like wonder – how they can refresh our view of the world, and our place in it – enabling us to see, touch, recognise and appreciate beauty, if only for a fleeting moment; being affected by the experience – feeling the deep, all-enveloping, joy.
As I thought these things in my workshop, looking out the window at the cows staring back at me over the bank at the end of the garden, I wondered what objects provide the lightening bolt for me. As the smoke from my pipe danced gracefully in front of me I remembered an old leather chair (it’s now shabby and worn) from my childhood; and then, mornings curled up in it waiting to go to school; evenings sitting watching the summer showers through the open front door; winters lounging in it reading a comic or a book.
I wish I had that chair to sit in now, or at least to look at, to touch with tingling finger tips, to relive precious moments – an old, lifelong, friend who knows my thoughts and doesn’t need words; shared moments.
A chair. A magical thing. Especially for a child. Especially if it’s their very own. And, they can keep it forever, growing old with it, having adventures, and reliving all those precious, fleeting moments – a thing of beauty. And, practical, too.
So, I decided to make the chair I would have fallen in love with as a child.
This is how it started:
Then, after a walk to get a few more bits and pieces, and some feverish activity I had this:
The back frame together, the front legs cut and peeled, and some stretchers. At this point I was getting excited, and could visualise where this was going, but also getting increasingly nervous, as the whole thing could go awry at any point – every time I picked up a tool and made a change. I could feel the adrenaline coursing through me, so I knew I was doing something special.
Next, the front frame, and, magically, it stands, perfectly balanced and unsupported:
Attach the front to the back and it’s starting to look chair-like:
Carefully select and cut the arms, for later:
Take a break, pick a pipe, sit back, relax in aromatic smoke, contemplate and absorb the chair. Mid way through this reverie I decided to use some beautiful, very old, Yew for the seat. I have been saving this Yew for a special occasion – now was sufficiently special to break into my meagre, treasured stash of this magical wood.
After some planing, the astounding colours and grain start to come to life:
More planing and some careful sanding reveals true beauty:
Some time measuring, shaping, fitting, more measuring, fitting again, and more shaping, results in a seat that fits snugly, safely and perfectly. I’m grinning from ear to ear:
A little time spent ensuring it sits flush and level on the stretchers:
And, the moment of truth:
Here I have to stop myself – I want to work on into the night, to finish what I’ve started, to manifest what is in my head, and to release myself from the adrenaline. But, I know from bitter experience that I need to let my excitement settle, so I put my tools away, sweep the floor, and set the chair so that it’s the first thing I see when I return in the morning.