South Line Table

The South Line Table

A Tangible Story

In 1872, one year after The Chicago Fire, a gathering of companies pulled together to create Chicago's first elevated train line. Twenty years later in 1892, the first 'Alley El' extended from Congress Ave to 39th Street - a distance of 3.2 miles.  The new 'El' provided transportation opportunity and connection to jobs that were previously unreachable for communities on Chicago's near-south side. The South Line table is a celebration of Chicago's heroic efforts to rebuild and rise from the ashes.

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This table supports a cookie cut of midwestern Ashwood. Looking closely along the edge of the table you will notice evidence of the Emerald Ash Boring Beetle that has wrecked havoc on the species of tree. This particular slab of tree, whose rings date it back to the mid 1940's, came upon very difficult times of harm and internal destruction causing it to die in the early 2000's. 

On the top of the table I engraved a minimalist design of the city of Chicago as a gift for my friends at Willow Chicago. 

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The Sabbath Table

The Sabbath Table

The Sabbath Table was project I completed for a class here at The Seattle School in my first term last fall. This school encourages students to think wide and wild in the search for connections between theology, culture and psychology - and this project was just that exercise for me. It represents the most creative of my thinking last fall that draws together cultural listening, creative design, and spiritual theology.

In the poem which I engraved and inlaid with gold tinted resin, I sought to capture the profound invitation to rhythm and repetition that in inherent in all of creation - particularly in the rings of a tree. As I built this table I had in my mind a Eucharistic community that I hope one day to lead. I said to a friend just shortly after I finished the table, "I have the table, but I don't have the community!" Quite literally, I have started with the table - the eucharist table. This is a lesson to myself, which I also hope to lead others into; that in our theology, in our creativity, in our design, in our listening to culture we must always start at the eucharist table where Christ calls us to be his very breath, body and blood.

The engraving reads:

Every tree is a declaration, every ring an invitation.

Creation is guided by the rhythm of season and it will be no other way. Attend often to the table, attune to the Rhythm of Sabbath.

 

Similar to the table I created for my friends back in Chicago, this table sits atop a table leg I designed called "South Line." The juxtaposition of the urban table leg and the eucharistic poem engraved on the top of this table represent for me the stark juxtaposition which is the Euchastist meal.

 

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Below is a short two-page paper I submitted with this project:

The first iteration of the Ten Commandments is found in Exodus 20. Within, is God’s direction to keep the Sabbath. Israel is told by God, via a transcript from Moses, to keep the Sabbath because God first kept the Sabbath. They are to rest from work and remember [Zakar] the Sabbath day as God’s design for creation. In their re-membering, they re-establish and re-build the Sabbath experience every seven days. They build a temple within time where they practice playful delight, lavishly experience the Earth’s goodness with food and relationship, and reverently respect and acknowledge each other, the other, and the creator above it all who set the created order in motion.

As an element of the created order, the Michigan Ash Wood tabletop is crosscut showing 68 years of growth rings. Being that it succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle in 2012, the rings date the tree to its germination in 1944. Each ring on the tree is a memory of the spring and summer growing seasons followed by harsh stagnant winters at my Dad’s lake house on Look Lake in Crystal, MI. It is also an open declaration that all around us every tree abides by seasons of growth and rest and holds within them a delicate record of recent seasons past.

Season and repetition are peculiar things to humans. We resist them, complain about them, and welcome them often all the same. It amazes me how my memory of winter seems to fade into gray-scale just as it comes back around and I find myself welcoming the first snowflake of December with joy and delight. Then, just as all hope of sunshine is beginning to fade and I am cursing the slow laden ground, the first sun-fueled thaw of late March pervades.  It is as if our memories have the propensity to forget just fast enough that each season feels new without being totally forgotten. Trees are brilliant catalogs of season. When cut and finished with care they serve as lifelong companions in our living spaces that remind us the world does not exist on a linear track. Rather, the real and tangible world moves with a fluxing heartbeat rhythm of work and rest.

Sabbath, is a special kind of season. Different then the rest of winter as observed by a tree, Sabbath is a weekly rest for women and men. In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy, Israel stands on the precipice of the Promise Land as they are re-told the Ten Commandments. Here, Israel is invited to Observe, [Shamar], the Sabbath because God liberated them from Egypt. This re-telling of the Sabbath command is focused on observing God’s work in Humanity.

In the Christian life, there is no experience more poignant and truthful than the regular invitation to the Lord’s Table. The Eucharist has been and is for good reason essentially incorporated into most Christian Sabbath traditions. As I experience it, the Sabbath Eucharist is one that calls me out of the modern economy and Millennial ego and into one of remembering my sustenance as provided by the creator.

To capture this invitation within modernity, I placed the Eucharist tabletop on a steel base, which draws nuance of Chicago’s El train public transportation system.  The city of Chicago is intensely important to me. It is a fountain of curious thought and eye-opening ingenuity from which I owe a great debt. Yet for all of it’s ideas, innovation, and opportunity, Sabbath is a stark and saving contrast to the rush and bustle of urban modernity. Sabbath rest, truthful awareness of the created order and its seasons, and sharing the Lord’s meal are my impetus for building a Eucharist Table because I am in need of this essential rhythm.

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Making of LaDanse

Crafting The LaDanse award was such an honor. I was given complete and artistic autonomy on the project, and even asked to do something that was a risk. 

Yes, I risked... a lot.. and I learned some wonderful things along the way.

 

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The maple you see in the design is actually solid all the way through. To accomplish this, I built a sled for my table saw to remove the 1/2" of purple hearted material, before gluing in a 1.5" strip of birds eye maple.

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First Glue Up

Each of the five blocks had to be cut and glued 3 times - once for each intersecting strip of maple. 

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After all 3 glue ups completed

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Laying out the template

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Visualizing the end product...

Everything had to be exactly precise on each block for the template to work correctly. My plan after cutting out the template and making all the blocks was to use my router to trace out the pattern in the 1.5" thick material.

 

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First Head Traced with the router...

I used a 1/4" Up/Down Combination Compression bit and a 1/4" template bushing to trace the heads. I completely burned through a set of motor bushings on my PorterCable 890

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It worked!

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I spent a solid 2-3 hours trying to decide if I was going to leave the heads with "shoulders" or cut them off and put them on bases...

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Sunbathing Heads

The Purple Heart actually turns purple in the Sun... so the heads had to get a sun bath for a day.

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Ash Wood base in Laser Jig

I love creating angled bases but this meant I needed to create a jig to hold the side of the base level when I laser engraved the recipient names on them. 

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Test fit!

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After 4 coats of UV Protective "Zar Ultra" Glossy Polyurethane

           

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  Read about the presentation of the awards

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Pallets!

We've seen them all over Pinterest. Nothing could be "cooler" than repurposing a pallet to make a coffee table or headboard.

Well this week, I decided to put pallets to kidmin purpose. You would think it would be simple: find a pallet, tear it apart, use the wood to make something new. Not. In. The. City.

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