Last weekend I had the the distinct pleasure to visit the Huntington Gardens in LA, CA.
Unfortunately the Japanese garden was closed for maintenance.
Wandering through the gardens we stumbled into the brand new Chinese garden. Chinese garden design is a thousands of years old, highly sophisticated art form that I don’t understand as good as nothing about.
I am sure almost everybody knows the shape of the Chinese roofline work.
or Chinese lattice work.
The Huntington Gardens also feature exquisitely carved panels such as this one
But it gets really exciting when you start looking at the joinery up close.
Just as expected, no glue, not nails, no pegs, no shortcuts but honest joinery!
Here’s the bummer: the lattice work is dovetailed!
And look at the joinery of the huge arch! Simply amazing!
We talked to a security guard that was walking around the garden. He told us that all the woodwork was pre-cut in China and then shipped to LA where Chinese woodworker hand-assembled the structures.
The Huntington Gardens also had a Greene and Greene exhibit in one of the exhibit halls. I must say, after seeing the Chinese joinery, what Green and Green produced looks rather crude and unfinished. Cloud-lift rails at the wrong locations, the generous use of Buddhist fu symbols, this all looks like a copy of classical Chinese style elements.
And if you mosey down to LA Chinatown and read the historic markers that the city (?) put up one can not help but wondering where one should draw the line between being inspired by great artist on copying other people’s work.
In any case, a visit to the Chinese Garden a the Huntington Gardens is high recommended for any woodworker interested in exploring finely crafted outdoors structures.
-- Chris Scholz, Arlington, TX, www.Galoot-Tools.com