Saturday, October 16, 2010
English Breakfast Table
I compare my work to that of the custom tailor. It may sound different, but we both are concerned that the "client" looks good in the "fabric" that we fit to his body. Obviously, a fat client should not have large horizontal stripes in his suit. Also, it is nice to dress a redhead in green. There are simple rules which make the job easy.
In my case, the "fabric" is the wood veneer I purchase, generally in Paris. I need to mention that the business of veneer supply has changed dramatically since 1995. You may refer to my earlier post on sawn veneers vrs. sliced veneers. Suffice it to say, the veneer which is being produced these days is not material which I would purchase or use, as it is too thin.
That said, I anticipated the problem many years ago, and I spent lots of money I didn't have at the time to buy more veneer than I needed. My veneer cave is stocked with the most amazing flitches of wood veneers, and I call it my "bank account." By that I mean that, for the rest of my career, I can only rely on what I have already purchased. The only exception is the rare occasion where I discover some old pieces of veneer in some back room which are available since the owner will never use them. That said, if you know of any good veneer which was cut before 1995, CALL ME!
I have mentioned Patrick George, in Paris, before. He is my primary supplier, as his business has been selling exotic wood for 4 generations. He treats me right, and I give him all the money I can. When I walk through his warehouse, I don't even ask about price. I just say, "Give me that, some of this, and everything over there!" Somehow I always end up short when the total is presented, but he understands. By leaving me in debt, he knows I must return to settle up next time. I am always in his debt.
One of these visits, I purchased some wonderful burl flitches, including highly figured ash. That flitch sat in my cave for years, until a delightful small English Pembroke table walked into the shop for a restorative face lift. Not too much. Just a slight adjustment so she could stand in the corner of the room without people staring.
As I was working on cleaning her smooth surface, gluing some loose elements, and protecting her patina, I fell under her charm. She was so simple, yet elegant. Just the right amount of marquetry trim. Nice figure. You know, she had chemistry.
While she recovered in the work shop, I paid homage by making two exact copies. I figured, since she was so beautiful, that should anything happen to her in the future, these honest copies would continue the gene pool. I selected the ash veneer I had purchased years before, and applied an appropriate brown water stain to create the same effect. The clothes fit perfectly.
When I finally returned the original to her home, I came back to work and was delighted to find her sisters standing proudly in my showroom, consoling me in my loss. We had breakfast together.