Found steel legs, reclaimed Heart pine, reclaimed brass. 44 x 32 x 27.5 inches.
Except for wood, steel is one of my favorite materials. Sometimes I “cast” steel components as an actor in a supporting role in my furniture (the legs and the shell are a few examples). In fact, steel and brass fasteners have gained tenure with me; they are instrumental in accentuating, deciphering and explaining many of the construction methods I choose to use.
Ever since childhood I have been intrigued and taken by engineered objects. What can I say, I like forged, milled, drilled and tapped objects. I admire steel’s strength and its appearance. I also like the sound of the word ‘steel’ and the cache of the cultural and historical associations that accompany this alloy. I am fascinated by steel joinery and I like to play around with and improve existing readymade bolts, nuts and other connectors. I routinely study, then modify these components to compliment the design of the new piece.
This desk stands on found tapered steel legs whose original designer was surely influenced by the Federal and art-deco styles. The legs, which carried a steel desk-top and one drawer, once occupied space in a Harvard lab. The steel legs received feet made from cast brass (to prevent water from corroding the legs) as floors were routinely washed. I assume that the table was built in the 1930s – as evident from the heavy brass feet. Granted that during WWII brass became a precious commodity and was rationed almost solely for weapon manufacturing. Thus, it is likely that the table was made years before the war started.
In 2006 the heavy table was tossed away. I saw it in and thought that the legs were unique: To shape steel sheets in order to look like tapered wood legs, then fit them with hollow brass feet and paint the legs in Army-green color.... in my eyes this renders them as rare and precious.
The table’s wood is made of long leaf yellow pine beams, saved from a pile of debris– previously used as the post and beam frame of a mill-building in Worcester Massachusetts. Long leaf yellow pine, or Heart pine, is a beautiful tightly grained old-growth lumber. I salvaged two crippled beams and re-sawn them. In the last two centuries these structural beams had been drilled, pegged, nailed and spilled upon with oil. It is this history of use and abuse, of scars and wrinkles, of maturity, eccentricity and unpredictability that makes this wood stand out. To prepare it for its next mission in life I had to spend a long time patching over, closing cracks, and dealing with all kinds of systemic problems that reclaimed wood possesses.
The shapes of the aprons are an infusion of the wood’s strong quarter-sawn grain patterns, and my exegeses on the architecture of a few of the bridges that span over the Merritt Park Way. The Merritt and its bridges were one of most impressive and exciting landmarks that made an impression on me during my maiden road trip crossing New England. In 1997 I drove from N.Y. to Montreal via Boston, the old parkway, its magnificent reinforced concrete bridges and their exquisite details, made this journey unforgettable. Returning to this area thirteen years later and being able to reflect on these iconic landmarks – through my own work – is both a humbling and an uplifting experience.