Snaker Style - Temptation of Eve - Snakes on Chair II

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Project by Woodbridge posted 01-13-2014 08:50 PM 3318 views 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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

15 comments so far

View irtamos's profile


284 posts in 2247 days

#1 posted 01-13-2014 08:56 PM


-- irtamos, Belgium

View CC's profile


17 posts in 2035 days

#2 posted 01-13-2014 09:02 PM

WOW, you’ve really out done yourself this time.
Although, I understand the girl theme, I’m really starting to worry about the snake fetish.
Keep up the good work

-- CC, Richmond Hill, Ontario

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11067 posts in 3631 days

#3 posted 01-13-2014 09:05 PM

Amazing artistry. It’s a gorgeous piece.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3228 days

#4 posted 01-13-2014 09:10 PM

Work of art

-- Dreaming patterns

View Oldtool's profile


2737 posts in 2393 days

#5 posted 01-13-2014 09:53 PM

Fantastic carving, absolutely outstanding chair.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View choppertoo's profile


301 posts in 3516 days

#6 posted 01-14-2014 12:24 AM

love it! great chair, carving, story.

-- The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it.. Michelangelo

View clieb91's profile


3521 posts in 4138 days

#7 posted 01-14-2014 12:45 AM

Its already been said, but Wow!


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2495 days

#8 posted 01-14-2014 01:29 AM

Outstanding carving.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2742 days

#9 posted 01-14-2014 03:01 AM

That’s one crazy chair.

-- I never finish anyth

#10 posted 01-14-2014 03:15 PM

Peter,very interesting chair.


View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3069 days

#11 posted 01-14-2014 03:50 PM

Well it’s certainly unique and will be a wonderful conversation piece. But, what’s more, you did a great job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Eli Adamit's profile

Eli Adamit

728 posts in 3492 days

#12 posted 01-14-2014 05:48 PM

Original idea and beautiful.

-- Eli Adamit, Israel

View justoneofme's profile


665 posts in 2683 days

#13 posted 01-15-2014 05:06 AM

I can’t say I’m really crazy about snakes … but that is one crazy-awesome chair Peter!! Your carving skills are incredible considering you feel you’re still in the learning stage, building your confidence. I love how you carried the theme substituting ball and claw. A very impressive piece of art … I’m looking forward to ‘Death of Cleopatra’!

As for the finish, I bet you just about had a bird when the finish went blotchy. Basswood is soft and stains soak in fast and (as you found out) uneven. Very good save Peter! It’s a learning curve :)

-- Elaine in Duncan

View MichaelA's profile


778 posts in 3091 days

#14 posted 01-16-2014 06:37 AM

Great chair and carving Peter! Basswood needs to be sanded well then I use allot of pre stain and soak it deep. Peter see Fred carves mainly basswood and has excellent advice on how to finish Projects!

-- The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. "Helen Keller"

View DocSavage45's profile


8725 posts in 3045 days

#15 posted 02-03-2014 01:26 AM


Know you have taken carving courses and you have studied up close and personal on this.

Looks like a save! And a magnificent chair!

Charles Neil has written an excellent, up to date, book on finishing.
He also has an on line program for people who are ready to learn some great techniques.

Check him out.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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