Thursday, December 11, 2014

Side Trip to London

The Frau and I had the opportunity to spend a few days in London this week, and we had a great time.  The first thing we did was 'afternoon tea.'  The Frau ordered a traditional afternoon tea.  It came with Earl Grey, cucumber sandwiches and the whole works.

I intended to do this, but there was something on the menu called 'Gentleman's Tea,' and I felt morally obligated to order it.  Turns out this version of afternoon tea came with beer and meat.  Perfect!

Afternoon tea at the Kensington Close Hotel.
Having been to London as a tourist before, I didn't need too many more photos of me with Big Ben, so it turns out I took relatively few pictures this time.  One of the things I forgot to take pictures of, was a fellow woodworker I got to meet up with, Travis from Snakeye Toolworks for a few pints.  That was fun.

What I did find on my camera on my way home was a bunch of pics of furniture from one of the museums we went to:  the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Technically this museum is free, but they do a good job of guilting you into donating a few bucks to see the displays.

There was a lot of cool future in this place.  I saw a couple pieces of note that I will share here.

The first is a sideboard designed by E.W. Godwin around 1870.  I can't see myself building either of these two pieces, but of the two I can see including some elements from this piece on a future project.

Designed by E.W. Godwin
Here's  the placard describing the piece.
Close up of some details.
Interesting hardware.
The next piece I want to show you is another sideboard.  This one says it is made of ebony with ivory inlay.  I don't know if it is solid ebony, or ebony veneer.  The sensible thinking part of my brain says it must be veneered, but the Tim Taylor part of my brain really would like to think it is solid ebony.  Just for posterity and all of your amazement, here it is:

This piece is even more incredible in person.  Designed by Bruce James Talbert.

The museum's blurb.
Close up of the detail.  It is amazingly clean and crisp, and there is a LOT of it.
I wound up at the V&A museum because The Frau wanted to see a photography exhibition there.  What I really wanted to see this time was the Museum of London, with all the history of the local area there.  Unfortunately, there was very little woodworking of note displayed there.  The coolest piece I found was this wooden Highlander.  It was used to sell snuff much like wooden tobacco indians were in the U.S.
Me and the Highlander.


  1. Those are some cool photos, Brian. I hope you enjoyed the trip (& Gentleman's Tea).

  2. I would guess the sideboard to be of solid ebony.
    I guess it wasn't looked upon as morally wrong to make something out of ebony and ivory in those days :-)
    A traditional afternoon tea sounds like a great way to start a holiday, whether it is the gentleman's version or the classic one.

    1. I think in Victorian times people wouldn't have thought much about using these materials for building something like this, as long as they could afford it. I couldn't imagine what it would cost for enough ebony to make a sideboard in lengths that were appropriate and wood as perfectly black as this.

      I think today no one would think any less of a piece like this built of more sustainable wood choices. However, after 130+ years, I can't imagine any other woods not looking brown. I am amazed with the contrast between the black, black ebony and the super white ivory after all this time.

  3. Looks like a wonderful time! I love the sideboards. The first one, I didn't know what it was. I don't know what a sideboard is. But, the second one, looks like it's a dresser or buffet? I love the ebony and white look, too! Thanks for posting.

    1. Hi Mom!

      That's a good thought. A lot of times we use names for furniture pieces without necessarily following (or knowing) the correct definition. It turns out that the ebony piece I call a sideboard isn't listed as a sideboard at all, but as a 'cabinet.'

      I think of a sideboard as a piece of dining room furniture used to serve food and store plates and utensils and stuff. I looked it up in Wikipedia here:

      Funnily enough, that page has a link to this page:

      which is a Wikipedia post about the first sideboard in my post here! Check it out if you want more info on this sideboard.