by George Walker
pages 20 -22
Our craft is never far from the forest. Aside from harvesting timber, food and fuel from the woodlands, we harvest ideas and inspiration. The leaf duff covering the forest soil gives way to the green shoots of a fiddlehead fern announcing new life as it unfurls graceful curves.
This iconic inspiration is captured in a form called a volute and is repeated in countless designs from the termination of a crest rail on a Windsor chair to the massive capital of an Ionic column. Historic design guides often included detailed drawings for laying out a graceful volute with a compass and straightedge.
I’ll be the first to admit that on the surface, a classical volute drawing can be intimidating with its swirling curves generated from multiple center points. Yet there is real value in the old drawings because they offer keys to guide a freehand sketch, especially for the furniture designer who often needs to draw a small volute over an irregular surface. In fact, even if you wanted to use a compass, on a smaller scale the tiny space won’t permit it. With a bit of practice, anyone can draw a graceful volute freehand.
Video: Watch the author draw a freehand volute in a free video on our web site.
In Our Store: “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design” and “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design: Moldings,” George R. Walker’s DVDs.