Tommie is a very patient man, and a pleasure to work with.
After our initial conversation in which he basically gave me Carte Blanche to create a comfortable chair for him, he sat back and waited for my email. Well, today he got the email and the pictures – in fact he was just looking at them when I phoned to tell him his chair was ready, I was a little nervous calling him as I was not sure if what I had created would be to his liking. To my utter relief he was delighted. I did tell him that the actual chair will look different, as the photos never really capture a chair. He was ever the gentleman and reassured me completely.
I started this chair a little while ago, with the intention of making it as solid, and comfortable as possible, while also being appealing to the discerning eye. It was not to be one of the more extravagant chairs I have been making for a while now, but more along the lines of The Thinking Chair. Only this was to be bigger, and, originally, to have the bark left on all the wood. However, as I gathered the materials and walked through the woods I decided to peel the bark.
Once I had the basic materials I set to measuring and cutting, and then to peeling – this is a very meditative process and takes quite a long time. All the under-bark has to be scrapped off the wood otherwise it turns a dark brown colour as it dries, ruining the effect of the pale ivory colour of the naked hazel – this will naturally darken over time to a lovely lustrous creamy dark and aged ivory hue.
The back of this chair was not as high as I would normally do as I wanted the sitter to be able to rest their head comfortably on the top rail, and so was set at 27.5 inches above the seat. This gives the chair a stocky look and feel, which is accentuated by the diameter of the wood used for the legs – slightly broader than I would normally go for. I believe it works.
I used one of my remaining pieces of Yew for the seat, and spent an afternoon planning and sanding to reveal the magnificent grain hidden beneath years of dust, and the rough cut saw marks of the precious timber. What was revealed was a truly magnificent grain and quite stunning colours. These were made all the more radiant by numerous coats of bees wax and lots of hand polishing. Originally I’d agreed with Tommie that the seat would be Beech, but, as the chair progressed I felt the Yew would be more appropriate, and certainly more visually appealing. I took a chance and I think it was worth it.
As Saturday drew to a close I was happy with my work and the chair was complete, sitting quietly in my workshop in the dying glow of the evening sun as I shut the door. I took a last look and then could not resist going back and sitting in it for a while. And I sat, running my hands over the unfinished wood, looking at it. And I smiled, broadly.
Sunday morning I spent 2 hours sanding and waxing, sanding and waxing, until the chair positively glowed and all the surfaces were smooth and enticing to the touch. Then I sat in it again – I lolled. And I was happy. I drank a strong brew of coffee and stayed in the chair looking out over the fields to the woods where it all began – the tops of the trees blew in the breeze as the rain began to fall. I sank deeper into the chair, stretched my legs, closed my eyes and listened to the rain.
This chair was born out of a train of thought that began with it’s predecessor, and, as it grew, it encouraged deep thought and concentration – as I laboured I gathered my thoughts about my work, what I do and why I do it – I spent many, many hours in deep meditation with this chair as my focus.
As I sat in it, listening to the sounds of life all around me, yet caught in mental silence I realised The Chairs work, like my own, was done.
Tommie, your chair:
I sincerely hope it brings you many years of peace and comfort.