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Thread: Sources of Inspiration

  1. #1

    Sources of Inspiration

    Iím sitting here on this cold night in my easy chair looking through an issue of Maine Antique Digest (arguably the best antiques magazine) and was looking at the furniture and carvings and feeling inspired. Oddly enough, I also have the latest issue of FW on my table next to me. It occurred to me that the furniture showcase in FW (Tool Chests in this issue) are also quite inspiring. In fact these two magazines are probably my favorite. It made me want to ask, is there something else Iím missing? What magazines, newspapers, websites do you look at for inspiration?

  2. #2
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    Forget the magazines, internet, and what others do. Look to the wood for guidance
    Aj

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Hughes View Post
    Forget the magazines, internet, and what others do. Look to the wood for guidance
    Nakashima agrees with you on that! It's absolutely a prime consideration.

    -------

    Dan, inspiration for projects can come from almost anywhere; books, magazines, advertisements, museums and other public places, pieces in friends' homes...wherever. What's most important is to just be vigilant and be sure to note when something tickles you so you can revisit it. There's nothing worse than realizing that you really loved an idea and can't remember where it is so you can revisit it.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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    It is a fair question, and one i dont have a good answer for. I wish someone would collect and catalog excellent works. Some things i would suggest is to look at the top furniture making schools of the country. They typically have a gallery of students' work. Next, and this is more difficult, but most good independent furniture makers have a gallery on their site. Finding them by name is the trick. If you have a subscription to FW online, i think you can search their galleries online. I would assume a page on instagram is curating a good collection of furniture pieces, but i havent found it yet.

    Are you looking for something specific, or just want to look at incredible pieces of furniture?

  5. #5
    This is one of the only reasons I use Instagram. There are a lot of talented people out there sharing their work

  6. #6
    Dan,
    I'm with you. I find FW to contain some incredible furniture. I also like that they showcase a lot of young, talented furniture artisans, and one thing you can do is pay attention to the maker/author in a particular article you like, and then go to their website and you will find the rest of their portfolio.

    Also, I have found the published woodworkers in FW to be more than hospitable about being accessible for questions. I have emailed two in the past regarding how they did certain things, and in both cases got prompt responses and even photos that were very helpful and appreciated. I recall one of the two was Laura Mays who is now the director of the Krenov school in CA.

    Speaking of the Krenov school, if you like that particular style of furniture, go to their website and peruse the extensive gallery of student work. There are stunning pieces there, several of which I have saved for inspiration on leg or other component design.

    A lot of this depends on the particular style that appeals to you. Furniture is just like any art form, there is an incredible range of style and expression. Once you identify what style speaks to you, you can narrow down to artisans who work in that style, and then find inspiration in their portfolios.

  7. #7
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    There are pros and cons to each source of "inspiration." If your source leads you to actually build something, then I think that is a good thing. However, I've really had to be diligent about moderating my consumption of inspiring sources as they tend to make me a critic and not necessarily a better builder.

    I've largely stopped looking at the popular magazines, because it leads me to want more tools, be a critic, and they don't actually inspire me to go out to the workshop and build something. I've got tons of ideas from all manner of sources, but I rarely execute. It also has a tendency to make me a critic of my own work, which can lead to disappointment and a sense of inadequacy.

    My BEST source of inspiration has been with my wife and kids. They always want me to build something, so I work with them (especially the kids) to draw out their ideas, and we develop the idea until we can start working on the project together. When the kids were little, the idea most often started as a crayon drawing. I would ask a lot of questions, and then we would go build it together. We built tables, chairs, shelves, custom hangers for their nurf guns, play tables, pine derby cars, doll houses, jewelry boxes, etc. etc.. I've had more inspiration leading to completed projects from them than from all other sources combined!

    All of that said, I have one magazine that a read regularly. Mortise and Tenon. they don't advertise a bunch of tools, and it is much more about the process and thought behind the work that the work itself.
    Man advances just in proportion that he mingles thought with his labor. - Ingersoll

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Jansen View Post
    Iím sitting here on this cold night in my easy chair looking through an issue of Maine Antique Digest (arguably the best antiques magazine) and was looking at the furniture and carvings and feeling inspired. Oddly enough, I also have the latest issue of FW on my table next to me. It occurred to me that the furniture showcase in FW (Tool Chests in this issue) are also quite inspiring. In fact these two magazines are probably my favorite. It made me want to ask, is there something else Iím missing? What magazines, newspapers, websites do you look at for inspiration?
    The FWW Design Books are fun. At last count there are at least 8 of them? Most are out of print. But you can still find them on the used market.

  9. #9
    My thought on developing my own designs is to look lots and lots of examples of work and not just other furniture. Then see what I remember when I sit down and draw. If it didnít stick in my brain, it wasnít that inspiring.

    However, the issue a few weeks ago where the lady (Audi or Ivy) was working with slabs and instead of butterflies, used a series of overlapping squares (pixelated), which was pretty cool. I have to admit that idea has been swimming around in my brain for a couple months. It was incredibly original and looked great. But if I use it in a design itís pretty much directly attributable to that article since Iíd never seen it before.

  10. #10
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    Maybe some of you agree, I think there is no substitute for seeing something inspirational in person. Scale is such a huge part of what makes a piece good, and that can be completely obscured by the camera. Most of the good stuff I see is antique, and it pops up completely unexpectedly. Usually it isn't a whole piece that catches my eye, but components of it. I found a stash of really old millwork in an attic earlier this year and seeing those extinct profiles opened up a new thought process. Because of my job, architectural millwork is generally what I run into most, but that overlaps to other aspects of woodworking. Look around at the old buildings and antique furniture around you, you'll see what I'm talking about.

  11. #11
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    My library has a good selection of books on furniture of various styles. I often check out books to take home and look at examples of the style I'm contemplating building something in. A few of those books were so good, I ended up scoring used copies cheap from online used book sellers.

    I get a lot of ideas from visiting old homes and places like Williamsburg ... never forget your camera and tape on those outings!

  12. #12
    I also think google images would give you more ideas than magazines. Most magazines I look at are more advertisements than content.

  13. #13
    Pick up a copy of David Savage’s book “The Intelligent Hand.” It is a great book for not only inspiration, but also about the design process.

    for pure inspiration, you might also try to find a copy of Silas Kopf’s “A Marquetry Odyssey.”

  14. #14
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    If I have an idea for a piece, I will google up images and review them for inspiration, scaling, proportion, etc. I'm currently kicking around the notion of building a tea table. So I've googled up "Federal Period Tea Table". Many of these images come from museums and some private collections that have online presence.

    But I too like FWW for ideas, etc. I used to like Popular Woodworking for ideas when the Huey/Schwarz/Lang contingent was there.
    Last edited by Brian Tymchak; 11-16-2019 at 11:02 AM.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

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