For those who see beauty in imperfection, wood stitching is an appealing art form. When I recently found a cracked tabletop, my first inclination was to replace it with something less damaged. However, as I further considered the nature of this wood piece, I realized it was the crack that gave the table its real character.
As Leonard Cohen expressed in his song "Anthem," forget your perfect offering, there is a crack, a crack in everything. So, I thought, why not highlight rather than hide the flaw? The flaw is the offering... is the song.
I had never attempted to stitch wood with copper wire before today, but I've been wanting to try this technique. I am learning through trial and error what works. I'll share my process here and a few tips.
First, I didn't care for the glossy wood finish, or the cheap look of the table itself. Sanding alone did not fix that. Torching everything took care of it. It's a method known as Shou Sugi Ban. Fire is a sure way of taking something lacking a wow factor and making it instantly memorable.
After charring the tabletop, I drilled holes in preparation for the wire stitching. Using my butane torch, I burned the wood inside and around the holes (so the raw wood wouldn't show).
Using a steel block and hammer, I flattened the copper wire. The copper looks better when it lies flush with the wood surface.
Now, I am experimenting with lacing patterns. The trick, it seems, is to double back and bring two stitches up through a single hole. I have discovered that the wire has to be carefully handled after being pounded flat. A few pieces of wire have snapped in half when I started stitching the wood. Lesson learned. (And I have gone back and sanded down the indentations left by the drill around the holes pictured above.)
I am intrigued, so far, with my project. The uniqueness of what is being created from something others might consider broken is what draws me to this work in progress. This table is reminding me that there is beauty to be found in brokenness. The crack is where the light gets in.
Stay tuned for the part two final reveal. I can't wait to see it myself, as these kinds of projects tend to take on a life of their own. I never know ahead of time just where the wood and other elements will lead me. It's the adventure of it all that keeps me coming back for more.
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