Robert Patterson


Robert Patterson

My wood objects take as their starting point traditional shaker boxes and trays. The objects borrow the "joinery" method mentioned in the earliest documentation of
shaker work, while my finishing procedures are skewed to allow for extensive surface modification. I also maintain the general shaping of the shaker objects, ovals and rounds, as they are very stable and involve a minimum of joints. The oval and round shapes are visually self evident, and are kind to the hand.
My use of the terms "box" and "tray" are a matter of convenience rather than a statement of usefulness. To a large extent, my treatment of the form precludes a good
bit of their implied utility.In most cases, construction of these objects occurs in two distinct stages, constructionand finishing.The flat parts and the bent parts progress at their own rate, with the bent rims (again, a term of convenience) requiring the cutting of the fingers and the subsequent bending
to final form. The wood is boiled and bent around forms, with the fingers being secured with copper tacks. The rims are then dried on the forms for a few days to
secure their shape. Concurrently, the oval or circular flat pieces are generally cut to shape. By far, the greater amount of work goes into the preparation of and execution of the flat surface treatment. Once the surface is ready for work, scoring occurs, followed by dyes, stains, paint, ink, and other clear or tinted resins.
When the flat shapes are ready to be joined to the bent forms, they are fitted to be friction tight, and secured by small wood pegs from the outside of the band. At this
point, final finishing occurs, and is entirely dependent on the materials used in the objects. For the most part, the majority of objects are finished with oil/varnish mixes,
hand applied and hand rubbed for final surface.
In every case, the core material is wood. I mill my own bands, and use veneered stock for the flat pieces (for stability reasons)(solid wood over a minimal size warps and shrinks/expands at an alarming rate). In many cases, I make my own veneered stock, recently including some metal sheeting, leather, and laminated paper. That said, I am not a wood snob. The contributions that common woods make to my objects are of no less interest than exotic varieties. While I try to control everything I can in the construction of these objects, the final outcome is a result of countless random occurrences and decisions.
The "titles" of these pieces are only notes for my own catalogue, and aren't useful for anything except my own reference. They could all be untitled, but that would quickly become unwieldy.