Version two of the St John’s coat rack is now complete and ready for the Lumber to Legacy program auction in Albany Oregon (http://cityofalbany.net/lumbertolegacy). The lumber was salvaged from a construction project in Albany that removed seven very large native Oregon White Oaks. The trees were donated to the city and milled by a local sawyer named Mark Azevedo. The lumber was air then kiln dried and distributed to local artisans as well as a group of high school kids to turn into projects to be sold at auction on November 9 of this year. The proceeds will be used to purchase and protect additional Oregon white oak habitat; a task that is much needed as there is very little of this native habitat left in the state.
Oregon is an interesting place to practice this craft. Though not wholly rich in proper furniture-woods like the forests of my youth, there is a newness of culture and an independent spirit here that is much to my liking. Teaming with local sawyers like Mark Azevedo has allowed me to bring a sense of place to my work with the use of native woods. There ARE very good species for furniture here in Oregon, they just take a little more work to uncover. I feel that a northwest style has yet to be defined and feel privileged to take part in the local studio furniture renaissance.
My piece for the Lumber to Legacy project began with a need for more storage space for our growing family. As the father of two young girls, we had a coat and shoe problem. As I pondered a solution, I looked to a local Oregon landmark; the St. Johns Bridge. I’ve always admired its flying buttresses and gothic arches. I was an engineer in another life and thought “what better representation of the engineers craft than a bridge”?
The St. Johns Valet features an abundance of coat hooks, both front and back. I used a Japanese finishing technique on the shoe cabinet called shou-sugi-ban, in which the sides of the case are charred with a propane torch, then scrubbed clean of charcoal prior to oiling and waxing. It leaves a textured and blackened surface that perfectly represents the actual bridges asphalt deck.
The oak procured from the Hackleman grove had a few interior checks which I left and filled with black tinted epoxy. I did this on purpose rather than scrap the wood and start over. The checks are representative of the poor state of the Nation’s bridges and other infrastructure- a fact that the former engineer in me would be remiss to neglect to represent.
I topped the shoe cabinet with a hand-carved walnut pull, meant to represent the automobile age in it’s angular appearance. The front of the piece features a fall-front door which swings down on spring-loaded pin hinges I devised and reveals two shelves of shoe storage space. Larger shoes fit in the bottom shelf. The back is designed to hold things like umbrellas, walking sticks and tennis rackets.
I am very pleased with how this piece turned out and am hopeful that I am afforded the opportunity to work with the City of Albany and it’s Lumber to Legacy Project yet again.
If you are interested in bidding on this or any of the other projects at the auction, please contact me as I have several tickets available for the auction and dinner.