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Design Building Blocks

a couple of years ago

I just returned from my annual pilgrimage down to Colonial Williamsburg. It is funny as I look over the pictures I took and as I compare them to photos taken from previous trips I am starting to see a shift in subject matter. In years past I took pictures of furniture I wanted to build. I took pictures of tradesmen at work and LOTS of pictures of tools. Today as I peruse my photos from this trip, I have many pictures of a small part of a piece of furniture but rarely the whole piece. I have pictures of architecture and lots of shots where I was admiring a line or shape. I even have some pictures of furniture that I hate. But overall I captured little snippets or building blocks of design.

It is safe to say that I have seen everything there is to see in Williamsburg, but it is a constant source of inspiration. And you don’t even have to like the time period or the style of the time. One thing that can be said about the 18th century is that they paid close attention to good design. Everywhere you look you will find attention to detail in the shape and line of something. Even the gardens have a proportional consideration to them. These are the building blocks of good design and it seems that these days, I’m more concerned with these elements than the entire piece or thought.

This is one influence that woodworking has had on me in a big way. I’m much more observant and find myself getting lost in little details and shapes everywhere I go. Some of these things will surface in a future design, and some will never see the light of day. These ideas will go into my mental encyclopedia and help define my understanding of what makes good design.

Oh and I didn’t come back with just ideas and inspiration either. I did grab a little booty from the Blacksmiths. First is a wrought hook to hang my TX Heritage shop apron, and next is a beefy bench dog/planing stop that will be the cornerstone of a workbench I plan to build this summer specifically for brand new woodworkers.bench dog and wrought hook

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