2015 End of Year Recap

It is difficult for me to find the time to produce regular blog posts. But we've kept busy this past year and I thought I'd compile a brief recap of some of this years projects. So in no particular order...

 

Greene and Greene Window Screens

Coincidentally I was asked to rescreen all of the windows at 2 different Greene and Greene homes. These included the Blacker House and the Spinks House which are both located in Pasadena's Hillcrest neighborhood.

 

Between the two houses there were several hundred window screens. I used bronze wire which does not darken surrounding wood (such as the way steel screen does), nor does it develop an ash-like, flakey deposits (they way aluminum screen does.)

In the end it felt good to give both of these houses a bit of a face lift.

Charles Rennie Macintosh Inspired Dining Chairs

A very nice couple commissioned Jim and me to make a set of dining chairs based on 2 different Mackintosh designs. The original Mackintosh chair was painted white. We were hoping to make them out of mahogany but the clients selected cherry to match their existing table. The chairs are inlaid with glass squares which match in color with the leather upholstery. 

Custom White Oak Breakfast table 

A very dear client and friend commissioned us to build this breakfast table for his family. Unfortunately he passed away shortly after delivery of the table. His friendship will be missed.

Small Batch Production

I will also note that 2015 was a year of ongoing contemplation regarding what direction Pasadena Woodworks will take. While I genuinely enjoy the process of designing and building custom pieces for individual clients, I also have a strong interest in small batch production of furniture I design. 

I spent much time debating what my first product should be. After ongoing back and forth contemplation I finally decided just to pick one of my designs and go for it. I chose a small, round end table. I made 12 tables, 4 in sapele, 4 in cherry, and 4 in walnut. These table are currently for sale. Click here.

The traditional method of cross-pinning the tenons proved to mesh well with production. There was no need for any glue and these tables rely solely on their joinery which is quite strong. Furthermore, should the tables need repairs down the line, they will be very easy to disassemble and reassemble. 

Making these tables was a great exercise for me in terms of lean production methods and developing maximum efficiency. However, in the end, I struggle with the nature of production work because I am more accustomed to dedicating the time in takes to make each piece as perfectly as possible. This is incongruous with production work.

Salvaged Olive Tree Lumber from the Blacker House

This year, the owners of the Blacker House were able to purchase an adjacent property which had been an original part of the their estate. They are restoring the land to the original configuration of the house which was part of the original garden. In doing so, several non-original trees had to be cut down and we were able to salvage some of them. Here are some pictures of some olive trees we salvaged for lumber.

Reproduction Doors Ryan Camp Death Valley

We were commissioned to reproduce 18 doors for an old mining camp in Death Valley. There were 2 different style doors both with cope and stick details. I really like door/window/sash work. 

Acquisition of Ebony Stockpile

Those are not railroad ties behind Pinky. They are very large slabs of macassar ebony. For the non-woodworkers out there, it is uncommon to acquire ebony in these sizes. Of course theres a long story about how we came to posses this lumber but I won't go into all of that. We're not sure if we'll resaw the majority of this material into veneer or use it to make solid ebony furniture. The prospect of either scenario is inspiring. 

Experiment in Plaster Inlay and Human Depiction

I often find myself wanting to incorporate something into my inlay work and yet I am not able to find historical precedent for doing so. I wondered if I could create plaster components and inlay them. I was curious about plaster because it is very easy to sculpt and can be shaped in ways not conducive to wood, stone, metal, or shell. Ultimately I abandoned this experiment because I felt my carving skills were not good enough. Still, it was a worthwhile exercise and I will continue improving my technique in hopes of being able to complete a project like this one day.

Experiment In Plaster Carving

Carving plaster is a completely different experience than carving wood. I had always wanted to try it and so I came up with a design and gave it a try. I'm not sure if I can find a practical use for carving plaster but if I can I would like to do more work like this. 

I Fulfilled My Dream of Buying an MG

A number of years ago I fell in love with MGAs. I was never able to find one in my budget but I did eventually find a sweet little 1970 MGB. I took the plunge and now its my daily driver. I seriously love this car.

Walnut Mirror Frame with Inlay

After experimenting with production work I felt that perhaps it would be better for me to focus on my primary passion which is inlay and carving. Sometimes I really enjoy doing what I call "meat and potatoes" woodworking...things like the doors for the mining camp in Death Valley. But most of the time I'm thinking about inlay and how ideally I would like to become known for this type of work. 

So I decided to make 2 mirror frames with inlay. For a while now I have been enamored with early French and English design and made that my starting point for inspiration for this inlay. I came up with this abstract floral motif. The mirror frames are walnut, most of the inlay is cherry and the little flowers are boxwood with silver.

I am very happy with how the frames came out. I will eventually take higher quality photos and put them in my online gallery. 






john ipekjianComment