Useable Art - The Brandegee Blog

Ramblings on Crafting Useable Art (and other things that I find interesting)

Useable Art

Posted on December 3, 2012

Something strange happened as I watched the restoration work on a log cabin we bought in the Eastern Allegheny mountains of western Pennsylvania.   The logs, beams, and boards hewn by settlers’ axes nearly two centuries ago grabbed hold of me.  Their time-weathered textures and colors stirred a passion in me for designing them into contemporary furniture.

I’ve been blessed now for over a decade with exceptional cabinet-makers who could follow my pencil marks on paper and work those diverse materials into what my great friend, David Lewis, has called “usable art.”

Nowadays, I’m still fired up by things I see in the shelter magazines, and much more by new loads of old stuff.  A current favorite haunt is called Construction Junction, a Pittsburgh warehouse that recycles all kinds of building castoffs.  Last week, I found a 50-inch diameter piece of glass in pristine, never-used condition, and a piece of used butcher block about four by six feet.  It’s an odd size for most table tops and heavy, so it’ll probably be cut down for two tabletops.

The photo shows the First dining table, so named because it was literally the first of quite a few large tables I’ve designed.  The base is made of log cabin beams (the legs) and roof joists (the stretchers) all mortised, through-tenoned, and pinned, supporting the glass top that keeps those lovely materials visible.

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