Tools for Working Wood
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Utopian Benches from The Shakers To The Separatists of Zoar
by Francis Cape

I leafed through this book over a period of several weeks before reading the whole thing one morning whilst firmly planted on that ubiquitous urban communal bench - the subway.

For all the enlightenment in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, Europe was pretty inhospitable place for small religious sects, and many migrated to the United States in search of religious freedom. Many of these groups were highly communal, and the simple, backless bench, was a sign both of piousness, and equality. Except in a very cursory way, this thin volume doesn't explore the beliefs of any of these groups. Instead, it investigates the construction, and reasoning behind different styles of bench. Each chapter deals with the basic history of a community and provides a measured drawing of a communal bench that would have been typical of the community.

This is a superb book to consult if you want to build a bench or two, and the benches are largely of very simple straightforward construction. The book is a very interesting read with enough background information to inform without getting bogged down, and the round-up of bench styles is a real eye-opener on what can be done with a basic traditional form. For designers, and furniture makers We Sit Together provides an interesting overview of the implications, and ideology conveyed by even the seemingly simplest of objects.

95 pages. 6/12" x 8 1/2" soft cover. Illustrated with B+W photos and drawings.

Binding: TP
Publisher: Princeton Arch.
  

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