Students who decide to take the footstool workshop will start to work and understand wood in a way that just is not a part of mortise and tenon or dovetail joinery. In fact, the footstool is not about joinery in the way that the toolbox is. It is about shaping: take a square blank, apply a pattern, rough it out. fair the curve and work to a final shape. Turned work and moldings bear some resemblance in that symmetry, proportion and light are in important part of the final piece, but as shaping occurs in three dimensions it is closer to carving.
The Georgian footstool is one project, although an optional one, that really begins to set North Bennet apart from other furniture making programs. It is a workshop that has been developed by instructors over the last fifteen years or so in an attempt to pack as much into a small project as possible – after all, everything needs at least three or four feet (although I grew up with one that had only two, and by design). Why not make each foot different? In the order which they are worked: a pad, a slipper, a trifid and a ball and claw.
There is one thing that each of the four legs has in common – the cabriole. This shape is what moves the eye from the knee to the foot. The cabriole leg is typified by the reverse S shape. When viewing the side profile there are two S curves – on the inside there is a tight concave which moves towards the floor and ends in a shallower convex on the back of the ankle while the outside starts with shallow convex on the knee and ends on the foot with a tight concave.
Once the patterns are cut and faired, there are a few options as to how to proceed. In the pad foot we work the blank until the leg has a circular cross section at any given point parallel to the floor. The slipper has a square profile while both the trifid and the ball and claw are treated differently for the carving that will be done on the knees. No matter how you decide to shape the leg, it is remarkable how compelling the shape that emerges can be.
Here are some photos of the work so far. Shown here in the finishing stages; all that is left is to upholster the slip seat. I’m happy to answer any questions.
Thank you for stopping by!
-- Charles - www.hammcrafted.com