Photographer Narayan Nayar shot me a look of disdain – perhaps the first time I’ve ever been on the receiving end of that particular facial contortion.
“I just can’t believe you guys are being such babies,” he said.
Narayan was right. Don Williams and I were balking at what seemed a simple request: Move H.O. Studley’s workbench into the middle of the room. Then lift Studley’s tool cabinet off the wall and place it onto the benchtop.
Truth is, I was terrified of every verb and noun in that sentence. After three years of documenting the chest and its contents for a forthcoming book, I was (almost) comfortable touching it. Heck, I could even turn my back on it occasionally.
But moving it? Putting it on the workbench? And then moving it around for all manner of photographs? Nope. Neither my brain nor my hands were willing.
Lucky for you, Narayan won the day. And 10 minutes later I was on the hinge end of Studley’s chest and lifting it off its wall cleats. Don and I were surprised at how lightweight the unloaded chest was.
Lucky for me, Don is a woodworker and furniture conservator. I loathe moving furniture with the help of non-woodworkers. They bump every wall and door jamb between the origin and the destination. When I move furniture or lumber with a fellow woodworker, it’s more like a dance that we both have practiced. We don’t have to talk much to communicate complex motions to get an object to its destination unscathed.
Within minutes, the tool cabinet was sitting on the bench. We reloaded it with its contents. And we were all struck with the beauty of the new juxtaposition.
That rush of endorphins lasted for two days – until we had to put the cabinet back on the wall.
— Christopher Schwarz
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