GARY A. LEAKE WOODWORKING

 

"Sitting Pretty"

Courting Bench

Salvaged American Black Walnut with Eastern Rock Maple and Leather

 

This piece is reminiscent of a bygone era where wooing included time spent sitting together yet separated just enough to meet the standards of the day…

A very unusual piece of natural-edged American black walnut (Juglans nigra) salvaged from the Seattle area, was used to create the top of the courting bench. Though warped, twisted, checked and split the timber showed just a teasing hint of the special character that lay underneath the ragged exterior - a unique combination of natural voids, wavy grain and evidence of long-dead borers that retain much of the rustic features of the tree of origin. Note that evidence that the dead tree was cut into slabs with the assistance of a large circular sawmill as been retained: a look at the underside of the bench reveals hints of the original saw marks.

Where possible the natural edge has been left. The slightly curved end-cuts and a hand-worked bevel along the top edges soften the flat surface while complimenting the rounded leather-covered seats and overall design. One of the challenges faced in utilizing this salvaged piece of walnut was the need to stabilize one end. This was accomplished with the assistance of a piece of plywood that authenticates the exceptional nature of the slab that it would warrant such efforts. Sage-green aniline-dyed leather wraps around a padded seat plate terminating under the front and rear edges.

Hand-turned, Eastern rock maple (Acer saccharum) has been used to fashion the whimsical, descending cone-shaped legs. Though dyed dark brown, the technique utilized as passed to the artist by his Grandfather (also a cabinet maker/restorer) allows the natural grain of the maple to be revealed. Lacking lower support members, the success of the design depends upon precisely fitted double-wedged (two hidden wedges per leg) mortise-and-tenon joints (Japanese jigoku-kusabi joinery technique) for attachment of the legs to the bench slab.

The piece has been hand finished with a durable lacquer to highlight and protect the unique character of the timbers. As with all of his wood art pieces the title of the piece, creation date and artist information has been permanently stamped on the underside of the piece. This piece has been entered in the artist’s permanent registry.

Upholstery:                                                                           Island Custom Upholstery, Oak Harbor

Dimensions: 57-1/2 inches in width, 16-1/2 inches in depth (overall), 18-1/2 inches in height