Friday, September 26, 2014

Introduction: The West.

Introduction: The West. 

This is Ross and Anita’s guide to the West. The West, for us, has played a central role in our relationship, in our growth as human beings, in our vision of ourselves and our future. We have made it our goal to experience and explore as much of this wild/unwild country as possible during our time in Seattle, and now, as we prepare to depart, we want to leave you with what we have found.

What is the west? For generations of Americans, the west has symbolized freedom, wilderness, unbounded human and natural potential and the chance of rebirth. The west is still a country of jagged peaks, stormy beaches, and salmon struggling up waterfalls; it is still a place of beauty and wonder. But the west is also a dream brought to earth: the young, unbounded west of legend has been shackled, bound, and paved into a civilization as full of technology and infrastructure as any in the east. The west is not a place to escape and find eternal freedom, although it sometimes will trick you into thinking it is; the west is not a place where youth can be reclaimed, though for a few moments in a mountain dawn it will feel as if it has been.

The west is different for each person, but there is a thread that runs through it all, a sense of wonder and renewal pitted against sobering mortality and occasional tragedy. This has been the story of our twenties; this is our west, the peaks and valleys where we became adults, where we learned the shape of things. Come with us back into the ancient forests and we will show you what we have found.

...Anita and I are planning a collection of essays and writing around our experiences traveling in the West.  Part travel-guide, part-memoir, part-story of our relationship.  Here's the introduction Anita just wrote this morning.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rocking Chair

I made this rocking chair during winter term in a furniture studio class in school.  On the first day, we were expected to show up with three design ideas to be critiqued.  Over the next three months, we refined one idea as we made full size drawings and two rounds of full size mock-ups to test proportions and aesthetics.  We had amazing instructors who helped us move quickly through design iterations and shared their lifetimes of woodworking knowledge with us.  Some people in the class had a little bit of experience and some had none at all, but we all ended up producing high quality work, which is primarily a testament to the instructors.

Making this chair was easily the hardest I've ever worked in my life.  Near the end I put in two 100 hour weeks and I didn't "finish" until 4 am the day of the review - although I still had a fair amount of sanding and finishing that I ended up doing over spring break.

The wood is all cherry, mostly from one enormous 16/4 board.  The side rails are shaped by hand with a spokeshave and mitered and joined with splines.  There are two cross rails that support the seat and back.  The seat and back have complex curves on both sides, which was done on a CNC router.  It's finished with clear OSMO which has given the wood a nice, rich red tone.  The initial idea for the chair was a compact rocking chair that would fit in an urban environment and have a strong sense of it's own hand-crafted identity.  It was an incredible experience and learning process and I would love to find a way to do woodworking professionally in the future.