Carved Seat Stools
In May of 2008, I woman came to my Open Studio and asked me if I could build stools in walnut with carved seats, in the manner of Sam Maloof, the master chair maker of our time. She had a walnut counter top. I didn't know how to do it, but I wanted to know. I said yes. She flashed me a significant look and left, leaving an address that returned my card, no telephone number, and no email address. I put it out of my mind, when, with a three week deadline, came the call, "Would you build them by such and such date in time for my house warming party?" Yes, of course. I talked to eight woodworkers, studied a video of Sam and his apprentices working on his $20,000 rocking chairs. After two days, I had a variety of tools and a plan combining different ideas, techniques, and my own intuition. Another two days, and I had the seat carved out. The stools were ready in time, but without a finish. I took them back and sanded and sanded and oiled until they gleamed.
At the Tiburon Art Festival, I asked at least fifty people to sit on the stools. Everyone found them unexpectedly, and wonderfully, comfortable. I came up with a price of $1450 each. Some species of wood would raise that figure a little. Varnish, instead of oil, would be less. I worked out five other designs before my customer settled on this one. I'm looking forward to building chairs. It's your call.