Heirlooms don't come wrapped from Ikea. They are wrought with love and craftsmanship. When your heart is linked to the creator, then an inanimate object takes on the story and history which is rarely store bought.
It was a piece of Pottery Barn modular furniture that inspired our wedding gift to Shannon and Kenny. It sounded so simple to convert the idea into a single sideboard with a modular wine insert.
Little did we know the richness of the experience building it would entail. The time. Or the work. But the story of this sideboard could not be bought. It could only be made.
It is a gift wrought with memories of hand selecting woods, design changes necessitated along the way, of perfecting products and techniques. Of multiple runs to Reel Lumber in search of the "right wood" when their deliveries of black walnut were fresh.
There was frustration when finishing required leaps of faith over hurdles of every day reality - like fitting time to work on within my husband's normally abnormally busy work schedule. Of surviving a mystery illness and then his miracle recovery with a long pause due to a surgical accident interfering with the coordination of his predominant hand. All of which make this heirloom more precious than it cost.
The cabinet is a symbol that this marvelous family that I had the good fortune to marry into motors its way through life fueled by patience and perseverance.
|Brea Canyon Pass at Sunset|
And so, after three years of hogging my car's spot in the garage, the cabinet was swaddled in blankets within the bosom of my husband's Avalanche. Time to take a drive from Diamond Bar to its new home in Huntington Harbor.
The front entrance to the condo is reached up a steep enclosed set of stairs with a couple of hair pin turns to maneuver Thank God our oldest son Trevor was home to help his brother deliver the cabinet without scratching.
Or dropping. Amen.
The construction is all hand-selected black walnut.
It was the third try to build the top of bookmatched boards jointed from 2" thick lumber that finally satisfied the artistic desire for flowing wood grain.
Now, keeping the expanse of board flat took experimentation. Right before I was going to go shopping for granite- Gerry found that setting the unfinished top on the lawn for an hour under the California summer sun worked. His hypothesis is this allows moisture from below and heat from above to loosen the bow in the center enough to plane and hand-scrape the top flat. Because of the organic nature of timber, it could not be bolted to the cabinet frame- figure 8 fasteners allow for movement.
Gerry sliced extra thick veneer inserted into the stiles and rails carved with a teensie ogee router bit.
The luminosity is achieved with 8 coats of finish. Between each coat, imperfections were hand-polished out with the finest steel wool. The depth of wood grain was enriched by four coats of a custom - blended brew of three part blend of tongue oil, semi-gloss polyurethane and paint thinner. 4 coats of gloss urethane then protect the finish from liquid spills. Renaissance wax massaged onto the surface is the secret to the gleam that is only found in the finest pieces of furniture.
The original design had pulls purchased from Pottery Barn. When Gerry went to install- they were a tad bit larger than the drawers allowed. So he opted for pulls from one of his favorite haunts, Woodcraft - then accented the figured walnut drawer fronts by inlaying a shadow-line with a raised framing detail.
|Dovetail joints on drawers.|
Dovetail joints are to cabinetry what lingerie is to a woman's wardrobe. It is the opportunity to hold things together beautifully.
One of my favorite details is the bookmatched veneer on the door fronts. In a Rorschach sort of way- do you see that fine set of 6-pack abs that I do?
While the vibe is very traditional, the grid wine is constructed with the exacting minimal variance tolerance required in modern architecture. Unless you actually inserted wine bottles into the slots, your eye would never notice the pattern is not exactly squared. This required a field trip to Total Wine for an assortment of bottle sizes to model from):-
Soon it won't just be wine bottles the couple needs to store. Next month come baby bottles.