E N Curtis

Woodworker. Artist. Teacher. Chucklehead.

Completions, New Starts, and Moving Ever Onward

As the second week came to a close we found many of our friends closing in on their projects. Many didn't glue-up for logistical reasons, needing to ship their pieces back to their home states is much simpler in a flat box than crating furniture. But still, we got to see projects coming together and fulfillment in work. You can see the joy and tom-foolery that tends to happen when we feel a sense of satisfaction and relief at the completion of our works. I've yet to find a medium of creativity that provides this sense for me to the level that furniture making does. I write songs, I write poems, I draw, I play sports, and, while I love all those things, there's something unique about watching a piece of furniture leave the clamps behind, or take a finish to deepen and expose the beauty of the grain. I think just above you're seeing Walter experience something of the same. Below is Allan's desk and divider sans drawer. A good deal of work for two weeks, and I believe he's quite happy with his piece, as he should be.


As we move on to other things, I've thought a lot lately about design and what it is to be a designer. I've been diving into the world of Wharton Escherick as of late, and can't seem to escape it. Looking through his house is like meandering into Wonderland, and his works are like stumbling across the White Rabbit or the Mad Hatter—they're strange, yet captivating, and they most certainly serve a purpose, even if the purpose isn't always immediately clear. He's an inspiring craftsman, even if his work doesn't speak to you. And as I've been working on a new design for a wall cabinet that is largely in the Shaker language, I've worked to bring in a little bit of Escherick influence. I've got the drawings at full scale, and while I'm not completely set on a few details, I'm going to press forward into production because, as I've found in the past, the material and "real-space" will allow me to see more what this piece wants to be than will paper and graphite. I'd like to do a post or two on him to give you a better idea of who he was and how he profoundly influenced furniture in the US.

Lastly, as my wife and I spent our Sunday at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, ME at their Shaker exhibit, I was disappointed to find I couldn't take pictures for your enjoyment. But the show was fantastic, and not just about their furniture. It sheds light on why they made things and what their purpose was, and how that purpose was reflected in the works of their hands. And if that doesn't excite you, they had a foot-powered mortising machine. Oh yes, oh yes. I strongly encourage anyone in the area to check it out if you have a chance, and if not, buy a few books on the shakers. They will influence the way you design furniture, I will put money on it.