Ckaktn Revival

Furniture Craft Plans

Furniture Craft Plans

Get Instant Access

A New England desk-on-frame, made of curly maple, white pine and tuip poplar, displays a drawer pufl common to this period.

This high chest, made by William Parkman, is a fine example of the broken-arch pediment with corkscrew finials. Note also the fan and star motif.

The Line of Beauty

Of all the influences that shaped Late-Baroque furniture, perhaps nothing has ever had as profound an effect on furniture styles as the S-shaped cynm curve. This curve appeared frequently at this time as cabriole legs, carvings, chair splats, and serpentine skirts. English author and artist William Hogarth called the cyma curve "The Line of Beauty." Its lineage stretches back to China, where it is seen on vases, and ancient Rome where it appeared on sarcophagi.

This simple curve had a profound impact on the role and function that furniture was to serve. It surpassed the aesthetic realm of decoration and became structurally integrated into pieces. The cabriole leg became the unofficial "trademark" of Queen Anne. Norman Vandal, author of the new woodworking book Queen Anne Furniture says, "The cabriole leg represents the ultimate expression of form and gentle animation over decoration." Carvings with the cyma curve, though more restrained than the later Rococo carvings, depicted shells, acanthus, cupid's bows and scrolls, as well as the ball-and-claw foot.

Prior to this period, American-made chairs had hard straight lines. High fashion typically dictated that straight posture required a straight chairback. But chairs imported from China—with their curvilinear lines and yoke-shaped top rails—challenged this notion. Splats on these Chinese chairs conformed to the shape of the spine and the seats were upholstered. This early attempt at comfort and ergonomics was revolutionary' for its time and greatly affected chair-makers of this period. Incidentally, the Chinese influence is also seen in the claw-footed cabriole leg, which originated from Chinese carvings of a dragon clutching a pearl.

Cabinetmaking Centers

With the growing population, cabinetmaking centers were springing up in Boston. Newport. New York, and Philadelphia in the North, as well as Williamsburg and Charleston in the South. Until recently, it was assumed that there were no major cabinet-making centers in the South. But research and publications from The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the iMuseum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and others have done much to correct this misconception. Colonial Williamsburg's reconstruction of the Anthony Hay Cabinet Shop has helped restore South-

This simple, New England low-post bed shows the common use of curved and straight members together. The front legs are the typical cabriole style, but the back legs are straight turnings. This bed is made of maple with a white pine headboard.

ern cabinetmaking to its rightful place in history. The range of colonial Southern styles is quite varied, although as a broad generalization they tended to reproduce English styles more laithlully than their Northern counterparts.

Age of Mahogany

The Age of Mahogony began around 1720. though walnut continued to be prized. In fact, some cabinetmakers offered pieces in either wood. Cherry, chestnut. ash. white pine, maple, and tulip poplar were also popular local woods.

Styles and construction techniques varied from col-

The backrest on this walnut day bed illustrates La te-Baroque features: curved crest rai and vase-shaped back splat The turned-spindle base barkens back to the earBer Baroque period.

Davicl Donnelly is a teleproductions manager at Boise State Uniwrsitv in Idaho. He's an amateur woodworker.

The backrest on this walnut day bed illustrates La te-Baroque features: curved crest rai and vase-shaped back splat The turned-spindle base barkens back to the earBer Baroque period.

ony to colony, and between urban and rural shops. Regional characteristics became identified with cabinet-making centers as they developed their own style. Urban shops employed journeymen and apprentices to help meet the demand for furniture commissions by wealthy citizens. Rural cabinetmakers, however, often worked alone, bartering for their merchandise. These rural craftsmen emphasized function over style, and made their livelihood from various endeavors, including farming and carpentry.

In contrast to the Late-Baroque style,country-style furniture of the time tended to be more spare. For example, the rural-style Windsor chair made its first American appearance about 1725 in Philadelphia. This English classic with bent wood and turned spin dles was originally made by wheelwrights and turners, rather than cabinetmakers. Though not actually a Late-Baroque piece, the Windsor gradually became a highly popular chair for common use throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and so deserves historical recognition.

Although we think of fine furniture as being made by cabinetmakers, we cannot overlook the impact of the upholstery trade. It first appeared in the colonies in the 18th century and quickly became a prestigious and prosperous craft. Most chairs had rush or upholstered leather or fabric seats. An easy chair, however.

Tea tables were a popular furniture form at this time. This walnut and cherry tea table from New Hampshire has a tray top with a wide concave rim, cabnoie legs and a shaped drop that repeats along the periphery of the apron.

would be entirely upholstered and sold by an upholsterer rather than a cabinetmaker.

As 18th-century styles became more lavish, new skills were required in dovetailing, veneering, japanning, and turning, which required even more specialization on the part of furniture makers. Many traditional joiners, including rural joiners, turned their efforts exclusively to housewrighting where they could put their skills to good use.

Qualities of Late-Baroque Furniture

Here's a summary of the common themes of Late-Baroque furniture:

Cabriole legs: The S-shaped cabriole leg could almost serve as a "trademark" for this style since it is the most visible and common expression of the cvma curve.

Carving: Shells, rosettes, and acanthus adorn chairs and case furniture. Carved claw feet or pad feet highlight cabriole legs.

Pediments and Finials: S-shaped broken pediments appear on tops of chests and clocks. Carved finials of flames or urns often accompany them.

Veneer: Bookmatchcd patterns of crotch wood and stringings appeared on chests and drawers, while stars or sunbursts served as focal points of attention on drop-front desks. A

Davicl Donnelly is a teleproductions manager at Boise State Uniwrsitv in Idaho. He's an amateur woodworker.

As is elegantly demonstrated on this walnut dressing table from Boston, veneer was commonly used on drawer fronts and also on the back splats of chairs. Note, too, the gracefully scaloped front apron, a shape common on casework aprons of the time.

Little Treasures You Can Make from Scrap

Here are a couple of simple turning projects that can easily be made from shop scraps. If you 're a novice turner you can learn a few tricks; and if you 're an old pro, these projects will make good Mtune up" exercises to sharpen your lathe skills before tackling a more complicated turning project

Was this article helpful?

0 0
How To Sell Furniture

How To Sell Furniture

Types Of Furniture To Sell. There are many types of products you can sell. You just need to determine who your target market is and what specific item they want. Or you could sell a couple different ones in a package deal.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment