Monday, March 02, 2015

choiring of trees...

An author friend passed away a few short years back, and my favorite of his books is The Choiring of the Trees. In that book a character was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair in the Arkansas State Prison. But while waiting on death row, Nail Chism, could hear the trees of his home forest singing in choir. The choiring was what sustained him and guided him home following his escape.

These small chapel-like boxes are to contain small choirs of our local hardwoods, similar to an earlier series of boxes I called "reliquaries" of wood. The idea is that our forest diversity is a thing that should be held sacred. An arrangement of small samples of 25 Arkansas species will form the "choir. "

The photo above shows the interesting angles required for form the shape. In the photo below are also the routing jigs that will be used to guide the stock as hidden loose tenon joints are formed. At this point, the joints are merely taped together to check their fit. At the top, the roof sections are cut at 30 degrees to form a 60 degree angle. Where the roof intersects the sides, parts are cut 15 degrees off 90 to form a 150 degree joint.

Don Harington grew up in Arkansas and built his set of novels around remembrances to visits with his grandparents in a small town between Eureka Springs and Fayetteville. Harington was left profoundly deaf by meningococcal meningitis from age 12, but remembered the patterns of speech from that earlier time which then laid a foundation for dialog in his books, which, including Choiring of the Trees have been described as an undiscovered continent.

In conversation and by email, Don remind me of the number of tools and their uses that he included in his books. So in this project, I hope to pay tribute to the forests, and to a favorite author at the same time. For those who have not read Harington, I suggest Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks as the best starting point.

Harington was a professor of art history, and you will note that the title of this first book is a word play on the shape of the arc. Architecture, Arkansas and the Ozarks are etymologically connected. The Choiring of the Trees also offers a playful word twist. Choiring can refer to both the singing and the shape of trees gathered in  a ring. The idea expressed here is that when you open the box, portions of the ringed arrangement of species will be discovered inside. The chapel shape will put the viewer on alert as to the sacredness of the contents of the box.

Make, fix and create...

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