I strive to revive, not invent." - A.W.N. Pugin
Good woodwork begins with good design. And, as far as we are concerned, good design is rooted in tradition, which is why we heartily agree with Mr. Pugin's sentiments quoted above.
We consider it a high compliment when folks think our finished work came out of an old church.
That is what we were going for...
Getting there begins at my desk. Actually, it starts a little earlier. Architecture is language, and immersion is the foundation of good design.
Immersion is a major part of my life – whether I am climbing inside a 19th century altar with a flashlight, photographing an historic church, or digging into the old books that surround my desk. The more I study Gothic and Romanesque work the more refined is my sense of design.
Pencil, paper, simple drafting tools, and a heap of time and patience are involved in this process. It is not uncommon for me to spend 10 hours or more on one of these design sketches. And each job often involves several of them.
The overall proportions of something like an altar come first, and then particular designs for each detail: carvings, molding profiles, turnings, joinery details… Throughout the project, these sketches are referred to constantly.
There are faster ways of rendering a design. But the time involved in drafting by hand is, in my opinion, worth the investment. The same mind and hands that will ultimately produce the finished piece are refining proportions and details at the sketchbook.
This planning is foundational to the whole process. In fact, it has been a foundational aspect of carving for centuries. The apprentice would begin learning the craft by learning to draw, for, as a renowned carver once put it, “If you can’t draw it, you can’t carve it.”