Going Around and Coming Around

One of my favorite movies is “Little Big Man”. The characters spiral in ironic orbits that periodically intersect each other. Each intersection finds them more tattered as they age, and they appear when and where you least expect them. It is the only movie I ever sat through twice in the theater, and when seemingly unrelated elements of my life meet, I refer to it as a Little Big Man Moment. I had one of these the other day.My wife and I were going through the 2007-2008 edition of the Lee Valley Hardware catalog, trying to find the right handles for our new kitchen cabinets. When we reached page 89, I said “wow, that is something special to see.” What I noticed (and she missed) was mention of one of my books in the lower right corner of the page.  There’s a bit of irony with the book and my kitchen remodel, but that’s another story for another day.

Deciding to set aside the debate between brushed chrome and matte black until after the granite counters arrive, we moved to the sofa to watch some TV. During a commercial, my wife picked up a sales flyer that we’d received in the mail from a local furniture store. I kept glancing over to see, and when she got to the last page she said “wow, that is something special to see.” What she noticed (and I missed) was a reproduction of Gustav Stickley’s Poppy Table. The reproduction I made (for the December 2007 issue of Popular Woodworking) was about four feet away.

This was one of my favorite projects to build, and it is one of the favorite pieces of furniture in my house. The original was made in 1901, and is the opposite of what most people think of when they think of Gustav Stickley furniture.  It was a favorite among readers as well. I received more e-mail with pictures of completed tables than for any other project I’ve made for the magazine.

If you’d like a Poppy Table of your own, the back issue is available, and there is also a free SketchUp model available as part of our 3D Warehouse collection. I’ll be talking about Stickley and other Arts & Crafts furniture designers at the Woodworking in America Conference later this summer.

Or, if you just want to buy a Poppy Table, there should be a dealer near you. Sometimes we can’t get to the projects we like and have to resort to buying furniture. As Old Lodge Skins would say “sometimes the magic works . . .”

–Robert W. Lang

3 thoughts on “Going Around and Coming Around

  1. Andrew Gieselman

    If you liked the movie "Little Big Man", you’ll LOVE the Thomas Berger novel of the same name that the movie was based on. It’s a masterpiece of American literature, highly entertaining.

    Regards, Andrew

  2. David

    The most hihgly amusing thing about the local furniture store’s website (Verbarg’s) is the pictures on the "furniture" page. It shows a woodworker working the edge of a figured board with a (what appears to be) a smoothing plane, and the lower picture shows a couple of hook knives and a marking gauge.

    None of these tools ever touched any of Verbarg’s furniture, but I guess an honest photo of how the furniture is made doesn’t entice potential buyers….

  3. dave brown

    Congrats on getting to see yourself in print. I’m sure it never ceases to put a smile on your face. It’s nice to see that Lee Valley cited their reference. Too bad Stickley or Verbarg’s didn’t send you a card for reviving one of Gustav’s lesser-known pieces. 😉


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