The wonderful wife and I went on a little trip to England and France. I have a number of complaints about France, but this isn’t a travel blog, its a craft blog! One of the woodworking highlights was a visit to the Victoria and Albert museum. They had a furniture exhibit that showed an exploded cabinet with all the traditional joinery.
They also had many different examples of marquetry and other types of highly decorative woodworking. Stunning!
The whole building was a work of art even without any contents. It is a piece of history too. On the way out we walked past one of the sides and I slowly noticed something was wrong. Instead of immaculate, the building wall was a little dreary. It had a lot of chips and damage. In fact that damaged looked kind of specific. Like it was hit by something ballistic. The realization came over me that this could be left over from the war. At that point, we came upon this portion of the wall.
Further on in London we went to Kensington Palace. It is where some of the royalty live, and has something about queen Victoria and princess Diana’s clothes or whatever. On the plus side I got to be royalty for a few minutes! Having had my fill of royal baby clothes I left my fearless partner to take her time and sped ahead to the cafe.
I was most of the way through when I had to go down a large stair case that caught my attention. It was a 30×30 foot area that was at least 20 feet tall that was completely paneled with quarter sawn oak. By the time I got to the bottom I became really interested in its construction and stopped to inspect up close. After a minute the attendant asked me if I was ok.
I proceeded to give the guy a small talk on how frame and panel construction is done. The picture above is how my wife found me! The guy had worked there for years and never had anyone stop at the bottom of the stairs like that. I explained to him how the large panels will grow and shrink with the seasons, but the relatively thin frames will keep the doors and structure stable. Once I said that he noticed a sliver of color difference at the edges of the panels from seasonal movement. He had been there for years, but was seeing all kinds of new details with a little knowledge.
I was lucky apparently, this wing was going to be closed off for renovation within the next week or two. The staircase was from the 1600s and needed some help. Lucky me! A house full of royal artifacts, and I was apparently the only person to appreciate the fact that a million hours had been spent building this room. It was a lot of oak.
Aside from England we had a decent river cruise on the Seine in France. The boat we were on was pretty swanky. They had a frame of gorgeous honeycomb at breakfast for your oatmeal. That can’t have been cheap. Makes me miss our bees.
Our tours took us through a number of old abbeys and churches. Much of the stone work was marvelous, but once again, I have an eye for staircases. This whole place had hundreds of pegged mortise and tenon joints. Otherwise the only real woodwork of interest were some very old doors here and there. I was too busy ogling to get any pictures.
I should start a tour company that just takes you places with really cool woodworking. Wood Wonders of the World has a nice ring to it!