Final blog post of the Wedding Gift. It's been interesting going through all the pictures and remembering the extremely late nights and totally unknown outcomes. Ahh good times. But the plan finally came together, to a sigh of relief. Here's installment 2 of 2, Making the leaf relief picture. From the start of this project I wanted to combine the wedding seating plan with a wedding gift for the newly weds. The seating blocks came first, then the idea to set them in framed picture. It was tricky trying to think of an image that wouldn't be over bearing to the whole scheme, as well as being considered ugly by the bride and groom. It had to be subtle; white would be the colour, with detail pulled out with shadows - a relief in plaster! The subject for the image varied from shared personal interests of the couple to toally abstract forms. Neither seemed visually appropriate. Instead I looked for symbolism of all that I wish for the happy couple's future.
"The Oak is the mightiest of trees and symbolizes strength and courage. The ancient Romans thought oak trees attracted lightening and thereby connected the oak tree to the sky god, Jupiter and his wife, Juno, the goddess of marriage. Thus, the oak is a symbol of conjugal fidelity and fulfillment. The oak tree was regarded by Socrates as an oracle tree. The Druids likewise ate acorns in preparation for prophesying. In addition, the Druids believed the leaves of the oak tree had the power to heal and renew strength." Living Arts Original
"The Sycamore is one of the oldest species of trees on the planet. Given its age, the Sycamore is often referenced in the pages of history:
- In the Bible, the Sycamore is considered a symbol of strength, divinity, and eternity.
- In American history, a 168-year-old Sycamore tree is credited with sheltering large groups of soldiers during the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania. Since then the tree has become a symbol of protection in the United States." 20-20 site
For ease of display during the wedding I worked out how many blocks would fit comfortably and clearly, evenly spread out and easy to navagate. Rounding up the number of blocks to 180 created two frames measuring 800 x 410 mm each internally. One Oak, one Sycamore. The rest of the scheme was built on from here.
Retreating into the clay studio I'm fortunate to have in our garage at home, thanks again Jan! It had been a good 11 years since I worked with clay, boy I have missed it. Memories of Carly Simon singing during A-Level Art classes came flooding back.
Working with plaster and solid wood was going to be heavy. To reduce the weight I had to make individual tiles so the plaster can be thinner and easier to handle without a risk of damage.
Music was set up and coffee brewed...
They were going to be individual tiles but I wanted to keep the image as a whole so the composition ignored the tile seams and the leaves overlapped them as much as possible. When I made a test of casting leaves from clay I was amazing by the incredible detail that is picked up. What I found was, if the clay remains moist, the leaves can be imprinted with a sense of movement and form.
Steve Younger, the furnitiure maker at DF Furniture kindly made the frames for me. Here, he is working on the finishing touches of the Sycamore frame, cutting away the excess veneer of the kerf joint. The tactile finish of Steve's work is always remarkable, certainly his particular trademark. Feeling is believing. (Louie the dog, I love him really)
There was one very hairy moment right at the end when the plaster was still considerably wet. Luckily a slow cook oven setting sorted it out just in the nick of time. Clay has been a joy to use again, plaster is exciting however it maybe a while until the next time I use it.
The scheme was amibious and a lot of enjoyable hardwork. It was fun designing for an event, a one off moment involving a number of people. I am eternally grateful to my parents for humouring me and my plans. For Oliver and Emma for asking me to be a part of their special day. A special thank you to everyone at DF Timber, Kim Butler, Jan Walker and those at the Square Orange that helped through the ups... and the downs. Couldn't have pulled it off without you. x
I told myself I wouldn't cry, but when you attend the most the beautiful wedding of a very special couple indeed, it's hard to compose yourself. Emma and Oli have pulled an incredible event together in only 4 months, and if you were there, you'd know how impressive that is. The attention to detail and immaculate organisation was flawless. No cliché here; it was the most beautiful wedding ever! What a shame it came and went in a flash.
Sitting back home in the North Lakes and piecing together the memories and photos, I realise I have been in a World of Weddings. A few months ago the couple took me out for an innocent Dim Sum dinner in London. Little did I know it was bribery. I left sleepy and full of dumplings, with my head full of wedding plans and promises of church readings and to create the seating plan for their reception.
The brief was simple, 9 tables will be named after the destinations of their European roadtrip honeymoon. There will be around 180 guests.
I wanted to create something unique that would provide mementos to the guests and a keepsake wedding present to the Bride and Groom.
Many ideas came and went, including an 8 sided revolving picture frame. Eventually these blocks of wood, which reveal the table names, came about. They were created in 6 types of Cumbrian wood, each one with a contrasting Sycamore centre, dovetailed in to slide across. The names were lasercut into each one, fingers were crossed that there weren't any spelling mistakes!
The blocks were for the guests, but as they are removed they could be revealing something underneath too. It was decided the blocks could be contained in the wedding gift. Two frames; one Oak containing a subtle Oak leaf relief, and one Sycamore containing a Sycamore leaf relief.
I was honoured by so many people taking them home. Unfortunately the contrast of humidity between Cumbria and Gloucester during this crazy summer of ours affected the fit a little too much for my perfectionism, but overall I'm thrilled with how it turned out. The 'making-of' to be blogged soon.
Phew, what a crazy week we've had at Danny Frost Furniture. A last minute offer for a spectacularly well-placed stand at Grand Designs Live, NEC Birmingham, means it has been all hands on deck to get all the planning, designing, construction and necessary ordering done before setting off, stupid'o clock, leaving our beloved Cumbria. Danny Frost Furniture, the other half of Danny Frost Timber, has recently been acquired by its long standing employees, Huw Lowden and Steve Younger. Both are experienced and extremely talented cabinet makers. Within the DF fold are a number of independent craftspeople, all with the special connection of the locally and sustainably sourced hardwoods, milled and seasoned at 'Frosty towers'. Our stand was a little snap shot of what happens in a small workshop in the North Lakes; Danny Frost's popular best sellers; Jonathan Leech's elegant and simple turned bowls; Croglan Design's unique chopping boards; Phil Bradley's homegrown and weaved willow baskets; as well as my latest pieces, kindly loaned by my clients.
A special thank you must be mentioned to Jamie Chaplin-Brice for over seeing the planning and designing of the stand. It clearly displayed everyones wares beautifully. All the mental and physical hard work clearly paid off, going by the attention we received during the show. Plus, his willow-rack shelving was a definite winner!
I personally have to thank Huw and Steve for all the support and belief they have shown in my work. My Arts and Crafts Bookcase and Boot Bench got to sit happily in the stand, and as a consequence, received some very lovely feedback.