Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Go back in time to India

I had the opportunity recently to meet (via Skype) Raj Guram, one of the founders of J&R Guram, makers of fine campaign furniture. Located in India, it is a family run business that is known for making beautiful, hand-crafted, high quality furniture and equipage. Campaign furniture is what the British took along on its military campaigns in Africa and India. The idea was to bring the comforts of home to the field. This required furniture makers to innovate, by producing compact, folding, yet durable and aesthetically pleasing, pieces. An excellent source on this topic, is Nick Brawer's book, British Campaign Furniture: Elegance Under Canvass 1740-1914.

I appreciate campaign furniture for its clever fold-up designs, its portability and the other-world feelings it evokes. To see what I mean, have a look at the site of Sujan Luxury Camps who use Guram pieces on its safaris. 

Here are some of my favorite pieces, along with a few photographs from J&R's website.  If you like what you see, please post to sites like Pinterest. As purely a fan of the company, I would like to help it get some much deserved exposure.

Cawnpore Wheelers Cot

From the company's site:

Campaign furniture which is designed to be ‘folded up’ and carried long distances has been a feature of travelling armies over many centuries. With the expansion of the European colonizers through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the finest European furniture makers competed to design and produce elegant, ingenious and fashionable knock-down furniture for colonial officers and civilians traveling in the colonies.
The administrators and armies of the British Empire in the Indian subcontinent were perhaps the largest consumer of campaign furniture leading to high quality local manufacturing of durable, practical and elegant ‘knock-down’ chairs, tables, desks, bookcases and beds. We have revived this craft using the finest furniture craftsmen and materials to present you with furniture and accessories of a lasting quality which will delight you for a lifetime indoors or outdoors, at home or at your camp.

The Serai Chair

Jeet and Raj Guram are descendants of Raja Bhagmal Jat of the royal house of Bithur, who played a defining role in establishing Cawnpore as a trading town in the early 19th century.

With this ancestry they were predisposed to being connoisseurs of both fine art and elegant living of which Campaign Furniture is a supreme exemplar. As avid conservationists/ revivalists they have painstakingly resourced and revitalised near extinct craft skills to produce and make possible a whole range of customised furniture where each piece is a limited edition work of art.

The Scinde Saloon Chair

Wonderful that a side table is included

“The first axiom for camp is not to do without comfort…. does not make yourself uncomfortable for want of things to which you’re accustomed. That’s the great secret of camp life.”
(Annie Steele – The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook 1890)

The Jorhat Camp Table

The Outran Verandah Daybed

The Havelock bed

And now the fun stuff:

The Jaisalmer Wine Cooler

The Jeolikot Safari Bar

For additional postings on British campaign furniture on this blog, see:

Monday, August 22, 2016

Have A Spin


This vintage Las Vegas ashtray has a working roulette wheel. Just push and release the spring loaded button on the bottom and hope you get lucky. It's a prized possession for me but you can get one pretty inexpensively on Ebay.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Lost Art Press and its Craftsmen

I came across an interesting company. Christopher Schwartz, former editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, along with his partner John Hoffman run Lost Art Press. They define their mission as seeking to help the modern woodworker learn traditional hand-tool skills. They seek to "restore the balance between hand and machine work by unearthing the so-called "lost arts" of hand skills and explaining how they can be integrated with the machinery in the modern shop to help produce furniture that is crisp, well-proportioned, stout and quickly made".
From their site you can buy beautifully bound rare books (such as the works of Parisian woodworker Andre Roubo (translated into English) and a book on British campaign furniture. They also have an informative blog and a series of DVDs that teach hand wood working techniques. I would like to learn some of these techniques and will post my progress after seeing some of the DVDs.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

After All, It's a Small World

These outstanding scale models are from Imagineering Disney, a blog made by former Disney designers who are still passionate about their craft. It has a lot of great content: photographs, models of attractions, drawings and vintage ephemera.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Old New York City, mapped in photos

Developer Dan Vanderkam collaborated with the New York Public Library to plot a collection of old photos from the Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s on an interactive map.

The project, called OldNYC, lets you browse 19th-century New York as easily as you would click around on Google Maps. The collection contains over 80,000 original photographs. Hit the red dot on the map to see a photo (source: TechInsider). 

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Slide Farm (and Cherikee Red)

That's Roland and Louise Flora who for years handmade neckerchief and bolo slides for the Boy Scouts of Ten Mile River Scout Camp up in Narrowsburg New York. They are both gone now, be many of us have memories of going into their small workshop on Route 97 and seeing him hand carve, and her paint, the pieces. The Floras lived on the property which was once a motel with small cabins throughout the property. One of these became the workshop. Campers would hike to the "slide farm" place their custom order (to be picked up the end of their stay at camp) and also perhaps to buy a Cherikee Red to fight the heat.