So settle down, and I’ll tell you a story, not a long one, but one that spans a good chunk of the last years work. Today is one of those mixed feeling days…. happy waving off one of our favourite children on a world tour, and sad and maybe a little apprehensive about how they go.
There have been several oblique mentions of this project on the blog over the last few months, and this has been a collaboration in the purest sense – we were invited to design and build a pair of traditional carcase dovetailed cabinets using hand tools for practically 100% of the project that would be married to steel frames conceived, created, coloured and gilded by Karl Millard, a goldsmith who lives a stones throw from our workshop here in Brunswick.
For my piece, I decided to use a variation on the skip tail layout for the dovetail joinery, and launched into to sawing and chopping out all the panels by hand. In fact, I had to build me up up a tower of plywood just to boost my meagre frame up to the right height to cut the tails into the long panels (2.2m).
Now, getting so intensely into detailed handwork is a curious experience. You start to see individual fibres, slight imperfections and there is a slow zooming in of focus until all your world is held in each passing moment measured by the breath. Now and then, just looking up from the work is a strange thing, almost as if the world re-constellates around you as you remember it being there. This white oak has also been a brilliant choice of material. Though he is hard to work for dovetailing, he is stiff in his form and his lovely swirling grain takes to the liming treatment beautifully.
In fact it could well be a surfeit of stilton that has led us into making this really quite unique object as well as the learning process that has enriched Karl and I so much of late. Geoffrey refers to his mysterious source of inspiration as ‘Pon-Pon’.
Karl and I have had a good time unravelling this strange thread, and a fine and extremely unique thing has been made. You are free to hate it, to be horrified or disturbed by his glowing golden eyes – do you see bandicoot, or venetian masques or alien domination? Please, if you can see anything else, do let us know – we are fascinated by the diversity of references that Pon-Pon 1 has fired off…
Whatever he reminds you of, to me his curious four-legged, eight eyed form, long neck and golden eyes suggest the kind of thing that comes alive in the wee hours, and dances to strange unheard music played on oaken arms and steel strings, so tuck the children up snug at night, lest they see what they shouldn’t…