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Subtle differences. Elements of a style can’t be reduced to simple formulas. To capture the essence of Greene & Greene, trust your eye to make the basic shapes and use hand tools to round the edges.

It’s easy to get caught in the trap of design by formula. But if art were simply a matter of ratios, a paint-by-number Mona Lisa would be just as good as the one hanging in the Louvre Museum. The curves and lifts that exemplify the work of Charles and Henry Greene are a good example of this.

I made this frame for a class to show how to lay out and shape typical details. The term “typical,” however, doesn’t really apply to Greene & Greene; each house and the furniture within share elements, but subtle differences separate them from one another. Within the style are variations.

First, the Functional Form

A mortise-and-tenon joint makes the connection at each corner, and I made the joints first. Because the rails stand proud of the stiles by 1⁄8″, I did the layout from the back edges to keep these faces flush.

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