Three. The Wizard’s Chair
The story of this chair’s name is part of a book-length manuscript I’ve been working on for the past 15 years, titled The Pagan Tree: A Wizard’s Apology.
The chair is made entirely of standing dead Rocky Mountain Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia), hunted and gathered in the Deerlodge National Forest near Philipsburg and Georgetwon Lake, Montana.
The seat and backrest are two pieces of slab wood cut from an unusually large tree. The seat is joined to the backrest with hardwood dowels and glue. Both the seat and backrest were sculpted to accentuate the colorful swirls of grain and the knots.
The backrest was sawn out of a solid, tapered slab, and then sculpted with a carving hatchet, chisels, and rasps to its present shape.
The legs are a matched set of four small, yet old, tree trunks. If you turned the chair upside down, you could count the growth rings in cross-section on the underside of the feet. The shapes of the legs are natural, formed as the trees outgrew injury and harsh conditions in the forest.
The joinery includes round mortises and tenons, glued and wedged. I didn’t use nails, screws, or other metal fasteners. After many hours of sculpting and hand sanding, I brushed on three finish coats–one of Scandinavian tung oil and two of polyurethane varnish.
The seat and backrest have a special significance to me. They were first assembled as a legless chair for me to sit on the ground in the tipi where I lived when I first moved to Virginia City in 1995. The legs and undercarriage were added years later when I decided to create a more functional chair to exhibit in a local art gallery.
I was delighted when the chair was purchased by a wonderfully eccentric poet, a lover of children, a maker of musical instruments, and an awesome inventor/scientist. In one word, a wizard …!