One may call this the “playroom”. This is where I have fun with wood and traditional materials and follow my personal artistic expression, casting aside the restrictions dictated by the ethics of the conservation profession. I explore different materials, styles and designs to either transform existing objects or craft new ones of my own design .
About a third of the time spent in an Italian school for restoration is focused on design - that is, on designing by hand, manually, and not on a computer. I loved this aspect of my studies in school, and I love it still.
Regarding manual design, several things that I learned from my teachers and mentors over the years stick in my mind. One of these is, “try it physically”. As a theoretical concept this is well and good, but putting this idea into practice for a given project, into actual physical dimensions at a very early stage, is very important. Several of the custom woodworking projects included in this section were first chalked to scale on the floor of my workshop to grasp their dimensions and general look-and-feel right at the beginning of the design process.
Custom woodworking generally involves one or a combination of three approaches.
- Design and building new furniture to match the interests and requirements of the client, often using traditional style, materials, and methods of construction and finishing.
- Adapting old and/or antique pieces in ways that may change their original function - for example, making a table top out of an old cabinet door.
- Creating special painting effects on modern furniture, using the traditional materials usually applied to restoring antique furniture. In some instances the client’s carpenter custom-builds pieces which I then custom finish with gold leaf or carnauba wax for instance.