by Chuck Bender
Looking at Wharton Esherick’s furniture, it’s easy to see how he brought nature into his designs. I’m not talking about how he simply carved abstract turkey buzzards on the front of an Arts & Crafts-style desk, but how, once he began to view furniture as sculpture, the pieces themselves abstractly represented natural elements.
Like many studio woodworkers, Esherick developed one product that kept the cash flowing. In Esherick’s case that was his famous three-legged stool. He made them from scraps of figured material laying about the shop, making each random in shape and size. Esherick sculpted the seats while shop apprentices turned the legs and did the joinery.
The design of the stools is simple – slender legs with a light, draping seat floating atop. When I look at the stools, I am reminded of reeds or rushes by a pond in fall; the willowy reeds stretch upward supporting a fallen leaf. This is the imagery I hope I’ve captured in my interpretation.
Article: Read more about Wharton Esherick in this article from the June 2013 issue.
In our store: Learn basic spindle turning techniques from Steve Shanesy.
Web site: Take a virtual tour of Esherick’s studio.
Free SketchUp Model: Download a 3D model of this project.