Favourite things: Vanessa’s beautiful Sam Maloof chair

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll highlight some of the best pieces that our professional course students made during 2017/18.

It’s always a delight to welcome students from around the world for our nine-month professional course and see them blossom into fantastic designers and woodworkers.

So, for those you who missed some of their best pieces, we’ll do a roundup – in no particular order – of the pieces they made and which we really like.

First up is Vanessa Johnston from Seattle who proved to be a versatile and prolific woodworker whose skills are matched by the quality of her designs.

She’s proved that with a collection of wych elm and olive ash furniture, including a table, bedside tables and an intricate clock.

Not only that but Vanessa won the Chippendale Prize 2018, awarded by the Chippendale Society, for the coherence of her collection, as well as her craftsmanship and excellent designs.

The piece we loved most was her Sam Maloof-inspired chair which, like all her pieces, was entirely created from elm and ash, two species that aren’t native to the USA.

The front legs were attached to the seat using a complex tenon and rabbet joint, known as a Maloof joint, named after the iconic furniture designer who first designed it.

The chair’s back legs were sawn into strips and then laminated around a former to create a curve.  The chair was then hand shaped, which involved many hours of sanding, and finished with Danish oil.

Vanessa is staying on in Scotland and has set up her own company, Vanessa Johnston Woodworking.


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