While doing some research this morning I stumbled upon some detailed photos of the Hannah Darlington chest (the original was built by Moses Pyle), which Glen D. Huey copied for the cover project of Popular Woodworking Magazine’s June 2013 (#204) issue (buy a copy here). I found the photos on Winterthur’s web site. The museum has, in fact, lots of pieces documented in its online collection. And it’s just not furniture – the museum has a wide variety of decorative and fine art objects on display online.
Glen came out to my school last spring to teach a class on building the chest, during which we took a trip to Winterthur to examine the original. Glen remarked several times how some of the details of the original chest differed a good bit from his reproduction (read about his visit here, here and here…yeah, he can be verbose). He also said, “If I had more photos I could have gotten closer on the first try.” Well, he’s got them now.
One of the most significant differences was the inlaid ends. Glen only had a front view from a book, but, when we examined the original, the ends were clearly inlaid (see it here). Another difference is that the inlay on the three drawers appears to be cut in freehand on the original; Glen used a radius tool.
This is not to say that Glen’s reproduction is lacking in any way. I like the idea that, as an artist, Glen’s interpretation differs from the original. Sure, it has the same overall appearance, but it is still somehow Glen’s. Copying a piece exactly is fine if that’s your intent (the kas pictured is a piece on which I painstakingly copied every detail from one in a friend’s collection…including the one piece crown moulding that’s 12″ wide), but it isn’t necessary. Some differences are bound to creep in no matter how careful you are.
If you see something you’d like to build, jump in and give it a try – but don’t be discouraged if your piece turns out a little different from the original. It might just be good enough to make the cover of a magazine.
For more in how to do Line & Berry inlay, check out this video download from Glen.