If you have been in our studio in the last year, you will have seen this 1932 Packard 900 Coupe Light Eight (referring to engine size) car body in our studio. In the view above, you are looking in the back window just over the rumble seat. Click on this in order to see a picture of a restored version of this same Packard. There are only a few existing coupes since the majority of these Packards had their roofs cut off when the wood structure began to rot in order to be converted to roadsters or open-air models. Originally, these Packards had a wooden framework over which canvas was stretched to form the roof. As you can see in these pictures, much of the original wooden framework was badly rotted or missing. We had to reconstruct these supporting elements and hand-shape the correct curves and angles so that the window would fit properly and a canvas top could be attached accurately. This may sound simple, but the re-creation of this interlocking structure took 285 hours to complete.
The Light Eight was intended as Packard's price leader at the entry level of the luxury car market. The marketing objective was to add a new market segment for Packard during the depression. It was attractive to buyers, but it failed in its main reason for existence, which was to lure away buyers from its rivals. Instead, it hurt the sales of Packard's more luxury and higher-priced models. A Light Eight 4-door, 5-passenger Sedan was priced at USD $1,750, compared to $2,485 for a similar Standard Eight Sedan. The three other Light Eight body styles cost $1,795 each. Packard managed to sell 6,785 units of its new model before discontinuing. Today, the restorer we worked with said he only knew of 6 existing models of this particular coupe.
The front of the car body was not in our shop as the engine is being totally rebuilt. The original upholstery will be artfully duplicated for this interior with leather and canvas dyed to be historically accurate and including wool cloth from a British company which has been supplying materials since this car was first produced. The final product will be a breathtaking reproduction of the original Packard 900 coupe as it rolled off the assembly line in 1932 – ready roll again in another year after other artisans painstakingly apply their craft. We were just thrilled to have been a part of this re-creation of one of the finest products of America’s past.
Clients, Tom and Carol, brought us some 4-inch thick Myrtle wood that had been in storage for the last 40 years. Tom’s father had owned a saw mill in the Pacific Northwest and had set this wood aside. Even with all this aging, the wood’s moisture level was at 14%. We had to arrange kiln drying to bring the moisture level down to 8% for the furniture to be in the home’s HVAC.
Designing the table and figuring out how to best use the “live edge” posed many challenging and exciting possibilities. Mark had intended to “average out” some of the rougher areas of the live edge so it could be sanded completely smooth, but Carol liked the dramatic look of the edge, so we used flexible flapper sanders to remove splintered wood while maintaining the effect of the ring debarker. We also had many hours of hand sanding. Tom jumped at the chance to work on the table to help transform the live edge from extremely rough to smooth and user-friendly.
At first, we chose a spectacular board for a possible trestle-style table base. But ultimately, artist John Christensen (www.christensen-oko.com) created a stainless steel base for the dining table and the exceptional board became a coffee table top for which John also created a metal base. In fact, in the course of the 9-month birthing process of these tables, there were many lively discussions and exchange of ideas between Mark as artisan, Tom as engineer/artist, Carol as designer and John as artist.
The tables are full of interest and character due to many cracks that were created by the wood’s shrinkage over time combined with the stunning figure around knots and the lustrous curl in the wood’s grain. After all these years in storage, the wood has new life as two very distinctive and unique tables in Tom and Carol’s showcase home.
A client brought a bronze eagle sculpture to us asking for a wooden base to showcase it. Although she could not define exactly what she wanted, she knew she wanted the base to be very natural and organic. After some thought, Mark remembered this holly stump he had tucked away. Selecting the ideal section of the stump to create the base, he cut away the extraneous parts. After sanding the top and bottom of the base only, he oiled the base to bring out the natural color and give it new life.
With this promo graphic for the West Austin Studio Tour May 13-14 & May 20-21 (11 am – 6 pm), I feel our landscaping and gardens will be on tour as much as our studio! The design theme for this year’s Tour is driven by the importance of supporting regional artists and the spaces they live and work in. Land stewardship is key to a healthy landscape and creativity needs the same stewardship for a healthy artistic ecosystem. So the graphics for the Tour are focusing on native flowering plants with the goal of celebrating what our community has to offer – both in flora and creativity.
So Landers’ Studio is excited to be on this Tour. We are artist #295. You can pick up catalogs and maps at many of the local libraries or go online at http://west.bigmedium.org/. Hope to see you then!
In one of my past blogs, “A Giant Wood Jig Saw Puzzle”, I posted a picture of wood stacked in a kiln for drying and explained that Landers’ Studio had been contracted by Seton (and their sub-contractor J.E. Dunn) to act as a consultant on drying the wood and advising on the best means to ultimately utilize and showcase this wood in the new hospital. Now Landers’ Studio has been contracted to build liturgical furniture for the chapel using this reclaimed elm and pecan wood.
One of the featured elements in the chapel furnishings will be the crucifix (shown in this sketch). Landers will construct the crucifix itself and artist, David Everett, will carve the corpus. The curved crosspiece of the crucifix will reflect the natural-edged curved stretcher of the altar design (maquette shown in featured image above). Landers will build the base of the altar and Kincannon Studios will create the limestone altar top. Landers will also bring in metal artist, John Christensen, to fabricate the candle stands and the tabernacle lamp. Kathleen Ash, Studio K glass artist, will create the stained glass for the chapel doors, the glass of the tabernacle lamp and the baptismal font. Landers also invited another woodworker, Mark Macek, to create some of the furniture.
Landers is now milling and processing the wood in order to create the components of his designs. For some components, the wood has had to be laminated into thicker stock. Some of the most showy natural pieces of wood have flaws and cracks that need to be epoxied for strength and beauty. I will blog again as the components start coming together into liturgical furniture for the new Chapel.
CUSTOM MILLWORK CAN BE USED TO RE-CREATE LOST DETAILS
by David Wilfong, Special to Statesman Homes, Saturday, January 14, 2017
Sometimes in restoring old homes, or even trying to get period aesthetics right in a new model, replacements for detailed elements can be hard to find. With architectural millwork, most wood accents can be accurately recreated.
Mark Landers of Landers’ Studio (500 W. St. Elmo Rd. in Austin) works on a lot of restorations and keeps his lathe busy recreating stately accents from times gone by.
“Right now we’re turning some balusters for the restoration of an old farmhouse up in Pflugerville,” Landers said. “It’s just not something you can go to a (big box store) and buy. This business is custom, so it’s people who have some idea, or they want to match an old idea.”
Millwork like this can be used for mantels, doors, gingerbread trim, newel posts, balusters, handrails, custom stair parts, porch columns, bull’s-eyes, plinth blocks and a plethora of other architectural accents.
Oftentimes, Landers said, he will work with an original piece to recreate elements if not doing an original design. Sometimes he has to resort to working with old photographs of what was there before a previous renovation.
“The photography is real important,” Landers said. “That’s how I learned my business, from studying old photos of antiques and what not.”