Finding furniture for under the stairs can be a problem in small cottages.
Last year a couple came to my workshop to see if I could come up with a solution for their house. They wanted a bespoke piece of furniture, something with cupboards and shelves which would fit a small area under the stairs. They hoped for something in the dresser style, with an angled top section.
Furniture Design Elements
We talked over the design elements they required. They wanted natural edges to the wood which was to be locally sourced Wych Elm. I asked the couple how many shelves were needed and what spacings were preferred between the shelves. We had to make allowances for electric sockets on the wall behind the cabinet, so they were accessible. They told me exactly what they wanted. I just had to make it for them.
Also it had to be ready for Christmas!
It is 5′ 5″ tall ( 1650 mm ) and 5′ ( 1520 mm ) wide. The lower cabinet is 22″ high ( 560 mm ). The handles and the bun feet are all hand turned, from burr elm. I finished the whole cabinet and shelves with 3 coats of Danish oil. The shelving fits nicely under the stairs and creates a display area where the space had previously been wasted.
Pictish carvings have always interested me, so earlier this year I carved some Pictish symbols in the style of pre-Christian Class 1 stone carvings. The designs of the carvings were simply hand carved, or incised into the wood, in this case Wych Elm, with an oak base. The stones themselves usually have pairs of symbols together, and Class 1 stones are possibly re-used earlier standing stones.
I carved each symbol onto individual pieces of wood, rather than have them in pairs, which was quite common. I would like to explore the different styles of these carvings further. The later stones included borders, patterns and figures, as well as the symbols.
The mystery of the Picts
Although the meanings of the carvings are unknown, they are one of the earliest symbols of a cultural identity found uniquely in Scotland.
Pictavia near Brechin and the Groam Museum in Rosemarkie are two great places to see original Pictish carvings and designs.
Of coarse, stones can still be seen at their original locations, like Aberlemno in Angus. Here, there are symbol stones and a Christian cross with symbols and a battle scene.
I think they are great places to visit and see these unique Pictish carved symbols.
After all the hard work of the many conservation project teams nominated for the trophies, the ceremony for the Nature of Scotland Awards 2013 finally took place. The winners were announced on 30th October at the Sheraton Hotel, Edinburgh. My involvement had been to design and make the actual trophies.
The brief had been to use sustainably sourced local timber. I chose to use Scottish elm and sycamore. The trophy recipients details were all engraved directly onto the wood bases. The titles of the award categories and the sponsors names were also engraved. The wood was then given an oil and lacquer finish, which felt good to the touch and was durable.