TOOKER’S PAINT CABINET
This cabinet is inspired by a cabinet built by William Christopher in the early 1960s for his partner, George Tooker (American Realism School), for storing his supplies while painting. Both artists have paintings owned by the Whitney museum, in Christopher’s case, Slope, and in Tooker’s, Fig Tree and The Subway, which is currently and usually on display there. Tooker’s art tended to depict the alienation in modern society while Christopher, who was a friend of MLK and marched with him in Selma, created art depicting the subjugation of black spirit and culture within white culture.
The current piece with simple functional work related design (each compartment has a specific purpose), fine lines, good craftsmanship and interesting wood follows Shaker principles, while my selection of the wood depicts white surrounding and engulfing the black (culture) as was also happening to the Shaker's culture.
Constructed of: mahogany, tiger maple, cherry, white pine, teak, brass.
This walnut bench is an original design. It does not strictly align with a specific Shaker object, but it takes a number of design cues from their furniture. The general form mixes thin straight lines with gentle curves. These components combine with mortise and tenon joinery to create a very strong and lightweight piece.
The ornamentation is minimal, but intended to be unique and striking. The leg turning is simple and the seat has a slight scoop as well, but the curved back slats are the real focal point. A sequence of circles is an uncomplicated but (hopefully) very unique detail, the type of combination that elevates many historical Shaker pieces.
I feel that the proportions and geometry of Shaker objects often gives them a unique one-of-a-kind character and personality, almost as if they're living creatures. I try to bring a similar living quality to my pieces whenever possible.
From whatever is there, create a chair.
This chair is the result of confronting limits set by what’s available -- do more with less. There were no designs, scale drawings, or models — it just evolved from a box of left over wood.
The chair has a straight back adjustable to two positions with a wooden wedge and a hand-carved seat.
Zebra wood and black walnut.
This doll cradle styled after after studying both Shaker and Amish designs. It's a blend. It has been made for my granddaughter and she loves butterflies. The butterfly is an inlay of many small pieces. The piece is made of Ash (a favorite wood of mine to work with). All the joinery is old style wood techniques, including pegs, mortice and tenon. It is 100% wood assembly with no metal fasteners.
Among woodworkers and collectors The Shakers are noted for tasteful design and superior craftsmanship. One often sees the phrase "clean lines" in discussions of the Shaker's furniture and casework. But another, rarely mentioned quality appeals to me: quirky, asymmetric design and layout. A stack of repeating pairs of drawers will be interrupted by a row of three smaller drawers each of a different size. Or a cabinet door appears seemingly out of place or an odd size to today's eye. It never fails to catch my eye, though. So when casting about for a design for built-ins for a room where all the Shaker-inspired items I've made are displayed I knew I couldn't do better than the cabinet shown on the cover of the monograph Documented Furniture - An Introduction to the Collections by Jean M. Burks. The monograph describes some of the items found at The Canterbury Shaker Village in Vermont. That picture is all I had to go on, but it was enough. I could fit the rest to the space at hand. A small door on the bottom with a big door on top? A single drawer coming out of one side? Irresistible! And along with the pleasure of looking great it also fulfills the basic Shaker requirement underlying all their designs: it's highly functional.
The cabinets are made from cherry with pine secondary wood. They are now, needless to say, full of stuff. But I can easily get to every bit of it!
The Arts and Crafts Movement paralleled the Shaker aesthetic in its rejection of excessive Victorian ornamentation and its embrace of simplicity, and honesty of the material and execution of each object. The Beacon Lamp, inspired by a Japanese print, brings together the common elements of utility, elegance, and centeredness shared by Shaker, Japanese, and Arts and Crafts design.
The base of the lamp is made from quarter sawn white oak. The shade is bronze. The lamp has three levels of light: The first lights only the stained-glass cube to act as a beacon in the dark, the second lights the bulb under the shade, and the third lights both for the brightest light.
I grew up in the Berkshire hills, and with Hancock Shaker Village nearby, the humble elegance of Shaker furniture and daily life was something I came to appreciate when I was small. I think the Shakers’ approach to building is a method we need to return to — I am a huge advocate for the concept of “slow design”, and the way big box stores design their products is inherently wasteful and impractical, with little to no regard for the longevity of the materials and their environmental impact — the Shakers operated in the opposite way. Each design is centered around maximum practicality, longterm use, and sustainable material use. Needless to say, circular design thinking like this is a philosophy that people like the Shakers once prioritized, and rise of disposability has left it in a blurry distance. I built these chairs according to the Shakers' values. I had a leftover supply of cedar scraps, and the cuts were visibly compatible for a chair design. I sketched the design for the Box Chair on a little piece of paper, and built it in one day using the cedar scraps I had on hand. After I was finished and excited about the design, my dad taught me the basics of AutoCAD, and I drew the design so that I could build another chair, and use the rest of the scraps. By the end, I was left with two cool new chairs for my small apartment in Manhattan and no waste. It felt good. I’m so happy to be sharing my little Box Chair in the museum’s Call for Woodwork. I am in good company!
I have made numerous Shaker pieces but I chose to submit this one as I find it particularly delightful. This two drawer Shaker Sewing Stand is similar to those attributed to Hancock around 1840. The details are mostly based on the stand presented by Christian Becksvoort in Fine Woodworking magazine in May, 2017. I had a lovely piece of curly maple that I chose to use for the top and drawer fronts. It is finished with a dye stain and shellac to enhance the figure of the wood. I think the two-way drawers, which allow the contents to be shared by people sitting on each side of the table, exemplify the importance of usefulness and shared work within the Shaker community.
This piece is a modern take on a classic Shaker ladderback chair. The custom peg rail is also a nod to the Shakers, who would use such racks for storing furniture as well as clothing, baskets, and other items. This chair can also function as a table; when hanging on the wall the surface of the seat is level with the floor. The material is hemlock milled from old studs from our house, built c. 1900. The material choice makes the chair lightweight for easy moving and storage.
Peter Wagner Design Build
After thoroughly browsing through the Shaker Museum's collection online, I found (among others, of course) that I was drawn to the 'shelf' items (1993.1.8, 1993.1.9, and also 1650.614.1). They have these big feet, with single vertical support members, and thin shelves. My household has been in need of a shelving type solution for our media, so I took inspiration from these 'shelfs' and built this unit which is sized to hold records on the bottom shelf, a amplifier on the second, and a record player on top. Much like the shaker shelves, I've used a large chunky foot (thickest), single upright member for support (medium), and cantilevering shelving (thinnest). But I've also tried to instill a contemporary spirit with regard to aesthetics, and also, out of need, constructed it so that it can come apart for transport.
29" H x 45" W x 17"