Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Coffee Table: A Little Deco, A Lot Awesome

It can be yours for $1500, plus tax.

I'm rolling out furniture ideas these days. This has less with to do with my ability as a purveyor of metal wares, and more to do with a slight lull between jobs. The personal craft-picnic is over this week. Dan and I must attend to a bevy of clients and their respective desires, which run the gamut from interesting to tedium-incarnate. Lo, it is always thus.

This coffee table I made for my apartment vaunts some pretty cool joinery. Connecting metal to metal through means other than welding requires a lexicon of skills and imagination that I didn't possess just a few years ago. I've since experimented with forge welding (only a little), mortise-and-tenon, traditional riveting, tap-and-die, and upsetting—to name just a fascinating few. Blacksmiths have employed these techniques for centuries. I, on the other hand, am sorting through them relatively recently. Allow me to step back and reflect on my process. Early on in my metal career, I was drawn to the pure anachronism of blacksmithing. I wouldn't be a red-blooded American boy if I wasn't (Those red-blooded American girls reading this can relate just as easily, I'm sure. I don't mean to exclude; some of the most talented and visionary artist-blacksmiths out there are women. Some, even, are not American, but still, I assume, of red-blood. See Shelley Thomas:

Aah, the popular conception of the FORGE, replete with heat, hammers, and the anvil pinging its shuddering bell-toll across the anachronistic night. Most people expect to see blacksmiths at Renaissance Fairs, not mixing it up with modern designers, contractors, and discerning homeowners. However, Metal, viewed as art and industry, has a recentt aesthetic heritage. In the last one hundred years, metalworkers pioneered processes too breathtaking for the scope of this blog (If you want to have your bowels voided from pure awe, observe the following clip of industrial blacksmiths forging a giant ring: The minute, craft-based techniques that demand a hammer, anvil, and stout elbow still have pertinence, but I'm interested in the intersection of old-world burl and modern sleekness. To this end, I employ traditional joinery insofar as it furthers my design goals. I don't shun welding just to do so. I like the dynamism of straight lines, intersecting angles, and, tempering the two, curved, organic shapes. I want my current design work to be a retrieval of metal traditions from the last century, a potpourri of styles drawn from things as pedestrian as old shipping crates, and idioms as calculated as 1930's skyscraper design—all with a little "hair under the armpits", so to speak. Next month I might get in to Viking Art or something. But in the meantime, no curvy plant shapes or Spanish scrollwork for me—that is, not for my house.

Most of the table is simple in design, but I wanted a visually complex focal point on the ends.

Elegant taper to feet.

This span runs the length of the table. The pieces of the span intersect via four punched-and-drifted holes. A 3/8 bar driven through the respective holes secures them together. I like this detail.

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