This is just one of the pieces I’m working on this winter.
This is just one of the pieces I’m working on this winter.
Summer is here and I’ve been thinking about relaxing on my deck, simply watching the world go by. Why not create a really nice patio chair for doing just that? Something inspired by wooden boats, something reminiscent of Mid Century Modern or Danish Modern design. Something that can take a little weather if it’s left out for the weekend. The more I thought about it the more I started noticing that there are an awful lot of smaller sized balconies attached to some really nice condo units that could use a couple of really nice patio chairs too. If you’ve found my other blog you may know that I’ve been watching the new condos, especially those along the rivers in Milwaukee, pretty closely. (The picture links to that blog if you’re curious.) So, I designed this chair. It’s a little smaller than a lot of outdoor chairs out there so that a couple of them will easily fit on a condo balcony, yet it is very comfortable for even big guys like me. I made the first two out of walnut, which turns out to be very durable wood for outdoor use (used in boat building worldwide), northern white cedar (another boat wood) and stainless steel. The back is easily removed (no tools needed) for shipping and storage . I finished the chair with my own mix of oils and spar varnish. This is an easy chair, made for sitting back and relaxing, part of what I call my summer stress relief system. Set it out and sit back.
Where can you get these? Two are now available on my Etsy site where it is very easy to order online. I’ll deliver them in the metro Milwaukee area with no shipping charge. Enjoy the summer!
By the way, I will be recommending on my Etsy site that these chairs be used in a protected outdoor setting however you can leave these chairs out in the weather all summer if you want. The finish may fade some. If it fades too much it can easily be restored, or better yet the chair can simply weather to a beautiful, stylish gray, it will still be just as comfortable. All metal parts are stainless steel so they won’t rust and the woods are highly resistant to rot.
Please feel free to leave a comment here to contact me. Or, if you would prefer you are welcome to use my alternate email address which is email@example.com . I am also available on twitter as @toddfi .
Update: I’ve been asked for the dimensions of this chair. Here they are:
Designing furniture that includes painted surfaces offers opportunities work with color, painted forms and the sculptural shapes of the piece itself. The image above is a detail from a cabinet I made that my family and I use to hang our coats on and store hats, gloves, mittens and scarves.
I designed this piece to play with the idea of functional sculpture and 2D art. I call it a saddle stool. It may be sat on like a saddle facing the front painted surface or as a more normal stool.
It was never intended to be very practical seating, more to encourage a reaction to the expression of abstracted eroticism.
I’ve used this form, the shape of the painted surface in the stool above, many times.
I did a series of low, side tables with etched glass tops. Below are 4 of them with one of the tops. By using the glass I added another layer for exploring painted forms by creating clear windows through which some of the painted surface could clearly be seen while the translucent surface of the glass created an implied surface beneath it.
At some point I became interested in a more literal interpretation of colors and forms and created a series of fish tables. At the time I had 2 assistants working for me in my studio and I challenged them to develop painted designs based on my input. We visited a nearby store that had huge aquariums as well as studied tropical fish coloring from reference material. I carved the shapes and legs and worked with my assistants in developing the palette for each table, they did the painting. Here are a few of the tables we produced.
This next piece is not exactly furniture, but it does show my interest in painted, sculptural forms that have roots in pragmatic objects. This is my canoe form.
This last piece was commissioned by a couple that had received this large copper pan as a gift while traveling in Africa. It had been used to roast cocoa beans over an open fire. They wanted to display it and use it in their home to hold magazines. I suggested attempting to indicate a sense of ritual. The couple were on their honeymoon when they received the pan. I researched some of the art of the traditional cultures from the region they had traveled in and used motifs of form and color to create the stand.
And here we get at something that I find fascinating. Traditional cultures around the world have expressed myth and culture by creating objects of color and form for a very long time. Even though I explore many forms of abstraction and am inspired my a great deal of modern art in this, the use of painted forms on 3D forms I feel part of an almost eternal tradition.
Over the years I’ve made many stools inspired by the stools Wharton Esherick made. Above is one of my latest.
I keep a copy of a clipping on the wall of my studio that I clipped from a magazine long ago. It shows an artist’s studio with at least 3 Esherick stools. Maybe the stools were inspiration, I’m sure they were functional. I have used several of my stools both in my home and in my studio. They’re great. They are light weight, sculptural, comfortable, and get better with age (natural daily polishing of the seat).
Here’s a stool I made many years ago. It was sold through a gallery I was showing in at the time. I like the way I did the rungs. The legs on this stool are square in section. My new stools have lathe turned legs and rungs. I’m thinking of doing a stool soon though that has both turned legs and sculpted rungs.
I cut the seat to best highlight the grain pattern.
The second stool I just completed does not have as striking a grain pattern nevertheless it is a very nice looking stool.
A couple of angles are needed to get an idea of what this stool looks like.
The Museum of Arts and Design shows a very nice Esherick stool online as well.
Of course these prices are high because of Wharton Esherick’s name and reputation, and (unfortunately) because he is dead.
I am selling these stools on Etsy at a fraction of the prices listed above (…LOL…). I also have two more stools in the works and will list them on Etsy as soon as they are done.
Are these stools art? They are sculptural, but are they sculpture? I think of them as art furniture. They fall close enough to sculpture on the art- craft continuum for me to sometimes shorten “art furniture” to just “art” because in making them I am expressing a feeling and emotional vision in an abstract way. There is no question that they are functional however, functional beyond the true, fundamental function of art.
If you take a little time to contemplate some of the elements and forms that these stools are made of you may notice a few things. One is that the shape of the legs are different for the 2 stools. This shape shifts a sense of motion (or stability) by adding mass either towards the floor or upward. Another thing you may notice is the angles of the rungs and the space that is outlined by the legs, seat and rungs as you move around the piece. These things are subtle and take time to appreciate, but are some of the elements that I considered when making them
Here’s a link to my Etsy store if you would like to consider owning one (or both!) of these stools.
UPDATE: I just got word of this show: Wharton Esherick: Birth of the American Modern . It looks very interesting.
UPDATE 2: These stools have been sold. I am working on several more as we speak though.
This guitar stool/ guitar stand was created to have a great looking place to keep your guitar, have it readily available and have just the right spot to sit and play a few chords even if you have just a few minutes during a busy day. It offers a chance to step away from the hustle of the day, relax for a few minutes and renew yourself. This stool is now available at my Etsy store as a made to order item.
I am also showing it on my web site.
Yacht braid creates a restraint to hold the guitar securely. This is easily removed from either end and is not required to hold the guitar, just an extra bit of safety for your valuable instrument.
Cork lined crotch holds the guitar neck without damaging your guitar’s finish.
The seat is carved from walnut and the legs are ash.
Industrial felt is used to cushion all other contact areas. One note: this works best as a stand for hollow body guitars.