Vanessa at Greyfriars Kirk Chippendale exhibition

Gods of feast and beauty

One of the reasons that Vanessa Johnston from Seattle won the Chippendale Society Prize 2018 was the coherence of her olive ash and wych elm furniture collection.

It’s a collection that includes bedside tables, chair, intricate clock, and a dining table that is held together using a complex tenon and rabbet joint, known as a Maloof joint, named after the iconic American furniture designer who first designed it.

It’s a beautifully simple table with a wych elm top and ash legs and stretchers, and named the Edesia Table, after the Roman god of the feast.

Dr Adam Bowett, chairman of the Chippendale Society, was impressed by her woodworking skills and the quality of her designs – as well as how her pieces, made from only two wood types, form a natural and harmonious group.

That’s also true of her drinks cabinet, made from olive ash, with leather-lined ash drawers, and legs made from wych elm.  The legs and top of the piece have also been etched with gold leaf.

She’s also named her other pieces of furniture after Roman gods.  Her clock is the Venus clock; her bedside tables are named after the twins, Gemini; her drinks cabinet is the Juno cabinet, and her elegant chair is the Diana chair.

Vanessa plans to stay on in Scotland, setting up her own business, Vanessa Johnston Woodworking, from incubation space at the school.

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