frequently asked questions, periodically revised
What are these objects made of?
Mostly wood, some aluminum, copper, leather, paper, cloth (usually not on the same object). Treated with dyes, stains, resins, shellac, varnish, oil, lacquers, and wax (again, usually not all on the same object).
Are they waterproof? Are they food safe?
No. And no. They are minimally water resistant, but common sense is required. None of the finishes are specifically food safe.
What are they used for (also known as “what are they?”)?
Some people call them trays. I get it, they look like trays. That implies a utility that I don’t confirm or deny. I ultimately make them to be displayed. I make them as isolated objects, and my expectations for their display tend to run in that direction. I would suggest that my surface treatment might preclude their use as containers, even though their construction heritage certainly owes something to that.
Is that inlay, or intarsia, or marquetry?
It's none of the above. The flat surface of the object is one contiguous piece of wood. It's surface is physically scored, and then stained, dyed, etc. This is the most asked question, and no matter how diplomatically I answer it, I sound dismissive of a very exacting and difficult discipline. Inlay just isn't appropriate for my needs, or my work methods. The surfaces take a beating after the surface is scored, and inlay would be a bit restrictive and fragile for what follows in my work routine. I'm just not sure at that point where any particular piece is heading, and to make the commitment of marquetry would preclude further work.
Do you make each one by hand and/or tool?
Yes, in its entirety. I mill the bands from kiln dried stock, and the flats are a result of sheet stock united with additional veneers and other surfaces (see answer #1). (One exception: I don't make the copper tacks, nor do I want to)
How long does it take to make one?
Every object is different. However, most objects usually succumb to the pressure within two weeks. These objects are the result of multiple workings and reworkings, and are usually made in groups of a half a dozen or so, mostly for the sake of the finishing regimen.
Are you a shaker?
No. Are you? If you are, I've got a few questions for you. And one confession: I borrowed your joinery method.
Are you putting shakers out of work?
I'm betting not. As of this writing, there are only two card-carrying members left (Sister Frances Carr died January 2, 2017 at the age of 89). I'm also betting that no self-respecting shaker would make these objects. The shakers, to their credit, were steadfast producers of objects of utility, with mostly spectacular results. I, on the other hand, make objects to be watched, and sometimes touched, with very little concern for utility.
Why does my object have "hopewell | mountain" engraved in the base?
That's the name of my llc. Sooner or later I will phase out that reference. All objects are always made by me, alone. I guess we could quibble about the provenance of the wood, stains, etc. but you know what I mean. More recent pieces will be engraved with "r.patterson" on the base.
Why does your base page lead with two quotes about mapping?
Those two quotes, one by Lewis Carroll, and the other by Jorge Luis Borges, seem to be succinct guidelines for a way to look at objects relative to their surroundings. The object is of itself, and about itself, and is not a surrogate for another experience. As the maker of these objects, I deal only with what I see and touch, and any reference to historical incident or implied utility is not part of my intention. You are free to carry those things into your interaction with my objects, but I'm skeptical.
Where is Milton, Georgia?
North of Alpharetta, which is north of Roswell, which is north of Atlanta. All are north of the gulf of mexico.