Another Rotary Bookcase
A rather sad tale is attached to this bookcase: John Churchill, the designer of the bookcase I made earlier - shown above - was asked to make another. When I enquired how John was getting along with the job, he advised that he had started, but had not been feeling too well, so had not visited his workshop since. Eventually, after some pushing from John, his doctor sent him for tests to discover why he felt so ‘below par’. On the day that he got the results, John called in at my home to reveal that he had cancer of the colon, which had spread to his liver, and that it was inoperable.
During our conversation he told me that I was ‘needed’, and I assumed it would be help his wife Vanessa with driving to the hospital, etc.. However, John said that he wanted me to finish the bespoke bookcase for him. When I pointed out that I am not in the same class of woodworker as John, he said we could do it as a ‘masterclass’, with him sitting in his workshop, directing me to do the physical work, so I agreed.
I visited John a few days later, but he was already bedridden, so we could only talk about the project, though he showed me a sketch of how he had intended to do the top. My reaction was to say that I hoped he didn’t expect me to use this 'basketwork' design as it was beyond my capabilities. However, he had more faith in my skills than me, and said he was sure I could manage. We left the subject there, with me expecting to be able to talk to him about it again, but a few days later – 16 days from getting his test results – he died.
A little while after the funeral, I asked Vanessa if she wanted me to proceed, and she showed me the shelves, central columns, and side bars that John had roughed out, so I brought them home and started to wonder how to do the top. I have no experience of marquetry, and didn’t have much idea of where to get veneers.
To cut the story short, after much struggling with the 'how' and the 'do' I completed John's project, and with some trepidation waited to see if the buyers thought that it was up to John's standard. Luckily they were delighted with it, but I feel that I may have had a little extra guidance from somewhere when I was working on it.
The lower picture shows the 'basketwork' top design