I have several partially written books both in my head and on paper/hard drive. One of the reasons I have held back on furniture titles was the lack of a suitable space in which to photograph the various stages of furniture reproduction: The Lemon Studio, whilst wonderfully atmospheric to work in (weather permitting), was not a consistent or reliable theatre for shooting presentable photographs.
I now have a workshop with a roof and an area set aside within for photography, so all I need do now is garner the requisite camera skills and I’m in business!
I initially considered writing a series of books along the lines of this blog viz. detailing the history and construction of various items of furniture divided into the Age of Oak, the Age of Walnut and the Age of Mahogany (roughly 1660 to 1790).
A problem with that approach would be the inevitably lengthy preambles to build a sense of the social history behind the examples, and the technicalities involved in each piece (not that that would necessarily be a bad thing), but it might make for heavy reading for those cutting their teeth on furniture reproduction.
Chests of drawers are open books, which, through their dovetailed- and mortice and tenon construction, veneered surfaces, mouldings and turnings, encapsulate the majority of cabinetmaking techniques identifiable in, not only case pieces, but tables and chairs too. What’s more, the timelines of construction methods, materials and brasses are more easily read in chests than any other furniture genre.
Therefore, I now believe a monograph on late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century chests of drawers would be a better introduction to those with an interest in case pieces and all manner of furniture from this period.
The book’s contents may vary as I work my way through it, but the projected chapters are as follows:
- The Development of the Chest of Drawers.
- A William and Mary Walnut Veneered Chest, circa 1695.
- A Queen Anne Walnut Veneered Chest, circa 1705.
- A George I Virginia Walnut Chest, circa 1720.
- A George II Mahogany Chest, circa 1740.
- A George III Mahogany Chest, circa 1765.
- Reproduction finishing.
I have carefully selected the dates of the chests to encompass as many different and historically appropriate construction methods as possible. Some of the areas and techniques covered in the book will include:
- Through and lapped dovetails.
- Through and lapped dustboards.
- Feather- and cross-banding
- Straight- and crossgrain mouldings.
- Bun feet.
- Plain and ogee bracket feet.
- Dressing slides.
- Plain, lapped and frame-and-panel backboards.
The chapter on finishing will provide the means to create a convincing antique finish, but a separate, comprehensive book on finishing and faking is also in the offing.
I hope to get underway with the first chest shortly and will preview it here on the blog.