I recently completed a job that was quite unique. Brad Nietert and Matt Behrens, furniture makers here in Charleston, SC came to my shop several months ago to discuss the possibility of making 12 chairs based on a 1850’s Georgian cockfighting chair. Historically, these chairs were constructed so the spectator sits in the chair backwards to observe the action of the fight. Notice the notches on the seat where the legs go. This chair is also called a reading or straddle chair where a bookstand was set on the rail – most-likely converted from a “cockfighting chair” by those who moved past this gruesome sport.
Now I know I live in South Carolina (and you never know what can happen down here), but these chairs are definitely NOT going to be used to view cockfights. The 12 chairs that have been commissioned are going to be used as dining chairs, and are not to be sat on backwards. The large arms go over the dining table. It made me wonder how you eat without these arms getting in the way? Oh well… I don’t ask these questions, as the customer is always right. Right???
This was carved in walnut. The 2 front legs have scrolls carved into the knee blocks. There are also 2 scrolls in the back of the chair with an “angry swan” carved between these scrolls. This was added to the design because this emblem was a sort of family crest.
The construction of these chairs seems mind-boggling to me. I’m glad I am only doing the “easy” part of carving. There are very few straight lines in the entire chair, and that always makes it fun trying to fit all the puzzle pieces together.
I have filmed the carving of the angry swan and also the scrolls on the back of the chair and should have these up on the school site soon.