I never went to design school, or ever had a class in furniture design, so the things I make are purely influenced by my surroundings and however my untrained mind chooses to translate raw material into functional form. Since I work in historic preservation in New Orleans, I regularly find myself in edifices that are in an advanced state of decay. Inside these buildings, I often play archeological inspector, following the clues left behind by the former generations of inhabitants and the changes to the structure itself perpetrated by both man and nature. Once a house starts to degrade and the plaster falls down or is “gutted” in order to put up drywall (a far inferior finish by the way), then all that is left is the lath and studs. Laths are the thin wooden strips that cover the walls and ceiling of old houses that were originally installed to hold up the plaster. A house striped down to lath is full of texture and patterns and has a skeletal feel, like being in the belly of a wooden whale. Here are some pictures of one such house that I was in recently on a site inspection after hurricane Isaac, and all the textures and archeological ephemera therein that will be my impetus for furniture and lighting design in the future. I’ve mixed in a few images of things I’ve made from similar materials to show what the detritus can become with a little vision and elbow grease.
Category Archives: Presetvation resource center
Anne Cutler, news reporter for WGNO and author of the Hammer and Heels Blog came by and shot a story on the Prince of Wales Building Skills Summer Program, with an appearance by yours truly. Check it out: Prince’s Foundation News Story
You can also see Anne’s blog post on the program here!
I had to make some copies of existing brackets that were damaged on a historic home in the Irish Chanel in New Orleans. I made them out of spanish cedar to resist moisture and cut them out on a scroll saw.
I was tasked with replicating the colorful transom I blogged about a while back, so here are some pictures. As a one man millshop at the Preservation Resource Center, I had to do all the steps myself, from milling to assembly to glazing. Good experience, but pretty slow compared to a production shop. The transoms are made out of cypress using traditional mortise and tenon joinery. Making a window is like making a jig saw puzzle – each piece has post a positive and negative shape, and it all has to fit together perfectly. If done right, the finished sash pieces together snugly without any nails necessary. a little glue is used for permanence, but that’s all.
Next, I’m making doors for the same property, here in new orleans in the treme.