Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Working With Wood

I said yesterday that I preferred working with wood over clay. I guess I should clarify that comment....I love sculpting.... but not pottery!  Over the years, when I had a home with a basement and work area I would refinish old ….. the older the better …. furniture. Now I am an apartment dweller and this passion of mine has become difficult to persue.

The piece shown here was retrieved from a very old home. It had been used in the basement for decades as a wash stand. It was covered not only with dirt and grime but bleach stains, cigarette burns, gouges in the surface, huge dents, mould… and nails driven at all angles.

The original piece was entirely tongue and groove, not a nail to be found. It appears to have been constructed using different woods – there’s oak, maple and ?. It took many months using only hand tools - steaming the dents back to proper level, removing cigarette burns, bleaching out acid burns … and removing all nails. The piece was totally disassembled and carefully fitted back together, glued and clamped. Finally I rubbed with the piece with tung oil and over the years it has mellowed to this wonderful patina. There is no wax or varnish on the piece. This is the only piece I have retained in my apartment dwelling.  The top drawer still bears signs of where nails were driven in ... mabe someday I will have another look. 

I would very much like to find the missing 'door' .... it appears to be a door that was attached, the wood has been chipped away to accommodate hinges. I keep looking at junk yards and antique shops but have not been able to find one.

The second picture here is of a doll house I constructed for my granddaughter. It was built totally from scratch, beginning with enlarging a paper pattern and cutting out all pieces with a jig saw. It is built to an exact 1/12 scale. Each piece has been hand constructed using hand tools… including the 22 windows … they are sliding windows … that took a bit of figuring out … but it worked.

I have lost the interior pictures. … the floors are all hardwood constructed of individual strips of wooden coffee stir sticks each individually glued in place and finished with tung oil. The bathroom floor is constructed to resemble tiles floors found in turn of the century homes. All detailing including wainscoting, ceiling mouldings, the porch turnings and trimmings were hand made by ‘me’. It is wired and lighted … that was probably the most difficult part. The roof is constructed of a potter’s clay …. Which I sanded with a palm sander (the only other electric tool used on the house was the jig saw used to cut the initial pieces. The bag on the palm sander didn’t do as promised…..it did not collect the sanding residue with the result I inhaled enormous amounts of white dust permanently burning and damaging my lungs. But hey, it looks like a slate roof.

I will try to get pictures of the interior again and post at a later time.



  1. Wow, Ruby, these are wonderful!!! What is sold as furniture today is mostly partical board pressed sawdust and not refinishable. The hundreds of hours put into the doll house show a love that can't be bought from a store.

  2. Yes Jerry, that is why I have bought and refinished the old furniture. Particle board has no depth or luster! It just sort of sits there without any statement.

    You should have seen the old oak pedestal table...the oak was cut on the 'quarter'. It was beautiful. And the solid cherry claw foot with real brass feet! Ah well, too large for the apartment.

  3. You are one amazing lady you just create and it seems as if you just do it but you are so full of wonderous creativity you are a pleasure to know