|Project by Woodbridge||posted 01-13-2014 08:50 PM||2186 views||1 time favorited||15 comments|
The Temptation of Eve is the second of my Snaker Style chairs.
I’ve had the idea to build an Eve themed chair for about two years now. I searched the internet for various photos or paintings of Eve with a snake and came upon a picture of the actress Rachel Weisz with a boa wrapped around her body. I decide some time ago to use that photo as the back of this snake themed chair project.
I made a tracing of the photo then scaled it up to the size needed for the back of the chair. The high relief carving is about 15 inches wide by 40 inches tall. Since this is the most difficult carving I have attempted to date, I wanted to give myself a fighting chance and used basswood. The blank was glued up from two 8” wide by 2 inch thick pieces of basswood.
I actually started the carving several months ago and had most of the body completed. I needed to build up my confidence before starting the face and took a few more carving seminars this fall. Although I was not able to get the face to look like Racheal Weisz it did turn out okay for a first attempt. I didn’t quite get the centreline of the face correct to capture this slight tilt of the head from the original picture.
Although I’ve had the back of the chair decided on for some time, I still had not resolved what the body of the chair would look like. One of my other planned projects for 2013 was to build the Philadelphia side chair appeared in the September/October edition of FWW magazine. I did not have the time to get that chair completed. So, I decided to use the Philadelphia side chair as the body for my Temptation of Eve chair. It was simple enough to replace the traditional carved back splat with the carved image of Eve and the Snake. The chair is made from Cherry.
I also wanted to incorporate an apple somewhere into the chair. So instead of carving the traditional ball and claw foot I decided to go with snake and apple foot.
Before carving the foot on the actual legs I carved a practice snake and apple foot out of basswood to make it easier for myself; to have a model to go by when doing the final carving; and to build my confidence carving this type of foot. On the final version I was able to correct for the mistakes I made when carving the basswood mock-up. One of the two apples has a bit in it.
One of my biggest woodworking challenges is finishing. I’ve had a number of bad experiences. For this chair, I started with a few coats of cherry tinted Danish oil. The basswood carving was dyed with an antique cherry dye. In spite of doing a test piece which looked okay, I really messed it up. The carving came out way to dark and blotchy. Fortunately I was able to bleach the dye out. For the second attempt I started with a spit coat of shellac (as per the Furniture Guys) and then coloured the carving with a cherry gel stain. At this point I was looking for a quick way to complete this chair and finished the rest with shellac, rubbed it out a bit and then applied some wax.
If anyone has any suggestions or knows good reference materials to help me improve my finishing skills I would appreciate your advice.
The seat is upholstered in a traditional way (FWW Nov/Dec 2010) with webbing, rubberized horsehair, cotton batting and cotton muslin and black cambric. It is covered with dark brown leather.
I’m planning on completing another Snaker style chair in 2014 transforming the back of the Charles Rohlfs Tall Back chair into a series of interwoven carved snakes. I also working some ideas for other Snaker style chairs: a Death of Cleopatra chair based on Giovanni Pedrini Giampietrino painting and a Medusa themed chair. I still need to work on these concepts a bit more. If you have any other ideas for snake themed chairs let me know.
But now it’s on to my next project which is to try to reproduce Charles Rohlfs’ iconic Swivel desk.
Thanks for looking.
-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario