A change in personal situation opened up a move to Edinburgh in Scotland. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and as a traditional out look on life, very much fixed in its banking tradition and aesthetically the city still belongs to the Georgian period (1714 to 1837. Georgian style embraces a century under the reign of three Georges and is often divided into the Palladia, early and late Georgian periods. The style was partly a reaction to baroque which George I loathed. ) when the vast part of the historic new city was built( for the visit of George the Third ). The reigns included many famous people and events,
- 1714 George I on the throne
- 1748 Pompeii discovered
- 1813 Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen
- 1837 Queen Victoria crowned
- Robert Adam - architect and designer, influenced by the way the Italians decorated their buildings
- George Hepplewhite - furniture maker in the late Georgian period
- Thomas Chippendale - cabinet maker renowned during the middle Georgian period
This history and the vast quantity of early Georgian and Victorian furniture, that still exists in the city, as well as the close proximity of Glasgow with its Arts and Crafts to Art Nouveau style, including the works of the well known Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Macintosh, have given me a exceptionally good cross section for what became a period of mainly furniture restoration work.
Work in store awaiting restoration. I still have a steady supply of this type of work and return to Scotland annually to continue this and other work that dealers in the antique trade have stock piled for me.
Most of my early works in Edinburgh were large pieces of furniture, and indeed up to the point of closing the workshop, to move to Brazil in 2003, the restoration work mainly included tables, chairs, side boards, chest of drawers and the odd piano. I had a steady stream of work from about eight of the antique dealers in Edinburgh and one of the dealers that brought me much smaller pieces, Michael Bennett-Levy, is now the main reason for me returning to Scotland every year.
Restored cabinet and my double portrait of Michael and Zoe, painted in acrylics. The chairs is one of four that I made for Michael to augment his dining room chairs.
More examples of work in progress and awaiting restoration. The automata was re based to take another glass globe and the foliage restored along with 6 Victorian stuffed Humming birds used to replace the missing ones, each of these had some movement connected to them.
A birch lathe used for ornamental turning.
A large candlestick made from Elm for a client in Glasgow, a frame maker, he often brought me strange and interesting projects, such as carving an intricate wooden flame that was then covered in silver gilt and various intricate picture frames, all were new projects but had to look antique.
Another part of conservation and restoration is work on the fabric of buildings, here( its me in the photograph) I was asked to help with the conservation of timber panelling and the restoration of a window at a fortified tower in Scotland, the architect specialised in such work and was zealous in his requirements to keep as much of the original panelling and window structure as I could. The glass was bought in France and is hand made to the same specification as the small fragments of glass that we found in the window. it is possibly better to wear a mask when doing this sort of work, clearly I did not during this work.
cabinet for Cd's made from spalted Beech and having three simple rotating storage units.
Another client, university professor, who wanted every room in the house with a different theme, he had come originally because I was the only person he could find to re create an early English fruit wood tea caddy. It was to be a birthday present for his wife and he wished it to be absolutely real in age ( a true fake), he was so pleased with it, that I continued for many years recreating Gothic style Putin desks and chairs to Japanese picture frames and tables.
New work. Here a coffee table to display the clients collection of silver and wooden objects, made from Cherry wood, Yew and Chestnut.
The Elm dining table was over four metres long and made for an old stable conversion.
A very large and heavy Oak dresser made to have a Georgian flavour for an antique dealers own house.
An Elm dresser made to fit into a narrow corrider and take a clients own collection of china plates.
An old fortified house on the out skirts of Edinburgh needed a few new bathrooms and I designed, built and painted this one along with designing and making the carpet. The client expressed his liking for the paintings of Kandinski.
Work in progress for Diageo on their Archive Building from 1997 to 2002.
Interiors made for the Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh
A good friend and long time work associate came to me by way of a client, whom in many ways was the epitome of a bad client, he was a garden designer without qualification and his real trade as a film director had, up to the point of us parting company, never taken off ( I believe that he has had better luck in the United States) He had bought a Masda sports car and wanted me to re do all the interior fittings in Rose wood, such as the gear stick and its panel, the dash around the speed o meter and the door handles on the inside of the car. After completing these for him he then asked me to do more mundane jobs in his house and for his newly created garden design job.
Some of the work done for Campbell Mars
The lions head was part of a hand rail carved from Cherry and running the full lenght of the staircase.
This is when I met Campbell Mars, an architect of outstanding in Edinburgh and one that dealt in restoring and new build. Along with the building work he very much liked to create interiors and with this in mind he and I have, over many years completed bold and subtle interiors. One of his newer projects was for the Diageo Group, formally Guinness Distillers the main producers of Scottish Whiskey and other alcohols, where he was approached to build their new Archive Building and in this I was to produce several rooms for the archive material.
Reproduction is sometimes necessary to augment a collection of chairs, especially when it is a lot cheaper to buy an odd number than an even number. here an Australian banker, had bought five chairs and then increased them to twelve ( I had to write a note for the customs to prove that they had been made by myself)
A new table that I made in a Regency style, it was quite large and and constructed with solid Elm and Elm veneers on top of a plywood base. I used the technique of brushing on P.V.A glue to the base wood and the veneers, then letting them dry hard over night. The following day I was able to apply the veneers with hot iron in the same manner as I would with animal glue; the main difference is the increased temperature that is needed to get the glue to soften.
In the workshop my assistant is completing work for 'Pine Country', a large gallery style shop in Edinburgh ( now closed) whilst I am making copies of chairs, two are of William and Mary style and made using Chestnut, the others are constructed with Mahogany ( reforested; as I only ever bought from mills that dealt solely in reforested timber)
The broucher of Pine Country showing the furniture that I and my assistant made, my New Zealand assistant left me to travel to the United States and work on boat interiors, so i conyinued making furniture for this shop until they finally closed in 2001.
The furniture for Pine Country was made with Pine and Tulip wood then a liquid wax was applied and the furniture buffed to a lustre. Orders were taken by phone or by fax and the company sent a van to collect the finished pieces. Generally I was making at least four pieces a week as well as my normal work, so it was a seven day week job for me. Slightly worse when I had assistants because of the need to organise work for them and not lat materials or wood become out of stock.
Clock case repairs are one of the steady and daily jobs, along with chair repairs they keep a constant cash flow for a workshop. The long case clock in the centre is in fact a completely new build from old timber to the requirements of an existing Edinburgh clock movement, I trust that you appreciate the work involved to produce cases like this one.
Here too is a new bracket clock and its bracket, made in Sycamore and then stained, it was made to replace a long case that did not suit the movement( this is my design and not a copy)
There is also work that comes from different sources and therefore makes for a less repetative day.
I have made many rocking horses and repaired a few, carved from pine and then given a gypsum covering, sanded and sealed, then painted, they give many years of good service and enjoyment.
The MDF display units( to be painted) where for a antique shop to display glass wear and ceramics
The kitchen unit was made for a very tall man that liked cooking and wished to have one piece of kitchen furniture for himself; made from Ash and using very strong metal runners for the drawers. The Elm chest was made for a lady artist who wished to keep her drawings tidy.
A large part of restoration includes carving and it can be time consuming so it can be mixed with other carving work so as one part is glued you can work on another, it is best to have a run of work so you do not get out of the swing of using the carving chisels.
Wood turning is similar to carving in that it is best done in numbers so that you keep your eye in trim and your hands nimble. Here are a few of an order of bird supports, made for a taxidermist. made from Cherry wood and Beech they would be stained to suit the bird and then polished. Normally i would try to do all the polishing on the lathe.