I was excited to see what the 2004 theme for the Esherick show would be. Every year they would select the theme based around a creation that Wharton had made at some point in his life and send out the the invitation brochure. The 2004 would be chess sets.
Although I never learned how to play the game of chess I do feel that the craft of woodworking (and life) is a chess match. You have to be constantly thinking and planning many steps ahead. That concept was the basis of the title of the work "Before" as it's always wise to think before acting, a lesson I sometimes still (always) forget!
I wanted the piece to be viewed as a celebration of beautiful woods.
It was most important to me to create a unique playing surface and designed the board to have a "woven" look. It took two tries to perfectly engineer this so that the walnut and cherry blocks created a free floating aesthetic.
I encased the board with beautiful tiger maple and added ebony squares on the corners.
I really loved how the finished board came out, as described in the newsletter for the exhibiton:
I also wanted to create a box for the pieces to be held in when not in use. I designed the work so that the playing surface would lift off the box to accomplish this.
I was gifted an incredible piece of Koa and was excited to use it. Koa is a wood specific to Hawaii. It has always been my favorite wood species as the color range is incredibly rich and has amazing 3d luster when there is figure in the grain like the photo above.
At the time it was becoming scare and expensive and has become even more so today as exportation of the wood is highly restricted. This would be the only time I've ever had the opportunity to use the wood and literally had just enough to create the box.
I lined the lip of the box with brass to create a beautiful glowing combination of wood and metal.
I finished the work with red and blue pieces that would color pop off the board with the queens embellished with freely drawn gold lines.
As far as craftmanship and design it may be one of my favorite works still to this day. The work was accepted into the exhibition and I was tremendously excited. Most importantly to show with Michael Brolly who was someone who I really looked up to!