Over the last few months the Laurence McIntosh team have been working to re-create a prototype of the iconic Mackintosh library which was destroyed by a devastating fire in 2014. Our team of master cabinetmakers have studied in great detail the original plans, scale-drawings and old photographs to honour Mackintosh’s vision. Over the years the original library had been modified and the wood darkened by over-painting and smoking. At times it has been complex to identify the true carving depth or shade of wood stain from 2D images but we have a dedicated and highly skilled team who enjoy a challenge and are rising to it.
The entire library bay is carved from tulipwood (liriodendron tulipisera), an American timber which is sustainably sourced and kiln dried. Our task involves crafting the posts that support the balcony, the balustrades with their scalloped spindles, and the pendants.
The master craftsmen’s tools rest amongst the wood shavings of the tulipwood as they exact over every detail, measuring and re-checking each individual piece. Gouges, scoops and a spoke shave are used to carve the timber into shape and produce the detail required to replicate the original art nouveau design. Patience is part of the process as we have tried and tested various techniques. After carving paint is applied to the pendant to colour the timber and then wiped off. The pendant is then left to dry for three days and a beeswax finish applied. The finished effect is simply stunning.
On the balustrades each scallop (pictured above) has idiosyncrasies as the craftsman’s thumb and sandpaper individually leave their maker’s mark, a new legacy for this generation, proud to be walking in the footsteps of those who built the original under Mackintosh’s watchful eye over a hundred years ago.
More details of this unique project will be revealed as it unfolds. Fans of Mackintosh can sign up for a regular newsletter about the Mackintosh Building Restoration Project at The Glasgow School of Art here. David MacDonald, managing director of Laurence McIntosh will be speaking at this event on the 11th of September 2017.