I've spent almost a week now thinking about my first project, and I have a fairly solid design concept. I've also selected my wood. I'm building a jewelry cabinet out of madrone, which is local to northern California. The idea is that the cabinet will be elegant and subtle--a place to showcase jewelry. The collection it houses is meant to be small, well-organized and well-loved. A woman (or man) will be able to see her (or his) favorite pieces neatly displayed in a single glance. No clutter or junk.
College of the Redwoods presents a way of working that's new to me. Rather than execute a rigid idea, your design, function of the piece and the wood play off each other in a fluid process. The project evolves as you work through each step. It's liberating to work this way, but also unnerving when uncertainty strikes.
I originally set out to make a cabinet with a solid, coopered (slightly curved) door, but I found the perfect piece of madrone...well, perfect except that it isn't quite wide enough and it's maybe a little too subtle. This gave me the idea to do a frame-and-panel door instead. The panel will be a showy piece of redwood burl, and it will be offset to one side. After cutting into my madrone, however, I realized that there's a lot more color and grain graphics in the wood than I had originally anticipated. Now I'm back to decisions about the design and use of the wood. Do I want to go ahead with the frame-and-panel, which is a cool concept but detracts from the madrone? Or do I want to showcase the more subtle (but not too subtle) beauty of the madrone?
Here are pictures of my wood in various stages and a drawing of my cabinet design. I'm also throwing in a random picture of tonight's sunset over the dunes. The sky was beautiful, and there was even a rainbow!