Monday, July 29, 2013

Recently, I saw a posting on, an excellent design website. And, since good design is always of interest, I posted a comment and reposted the below from a few years back......  

These are my safari chairs.  They came from Peshawar, Pakistan, and were manufactured around 1970 by a man named M. Hayat. 

The chairs are designed to come apart and will fit into transportable canvas bags. They are leather and rosewood with brass fittings.

This is handy since over many years of moving courtesy of the U.S. Navy, our chairs have alternately graced our living room or sat sleeping in their bags in some basement or closet.

The Backstory:  They have many names, we referred to them as Safari chairs, but Rookhee chairs is another name. They are sometimes classified as campaign furniture. The original chair design came from India during the British Raj. (At least that is the time the chairs became known among the British community.) 

This concept of a compact, portable chair expanded into other household pieces of furniture as well. Even canopy beds, as the photo shows, were designed to be taken apart and transported easily from the hot summer lowlands of India to the cooler mountainous regions.

Those Victorians took everything with them. One source says:

"Campaign furniture is primarily military, often multi-purpose with folding or separable parts. A sofa-cum-bed was first seen amongst Campaign furniture. Legs were made to unscrew, and the chair backs came off.

Made in British India from the late 18th century through the 19th century, this kind of furniture consistsof such pieces as chairs, tables, settees, chests, desks and beds. While it provided comfort, it also maintained the prestige of the officers. It evolved during the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras of Great Britain.

The only catch was that the more portable the furniture became, the more the officers ordered it. Reports suggest that "60 horses, 140 elephants, two or three hundred baggage camels and bullock carts without end" were used to transport the Governor-General and his two sisters up the country from Kolkata.

You could get a portable billiard table, folding chessboard and a portable shower."

Assembling one of these chairs makes me think of something akin to saddling a horse. The leather seat has lacing on the bottom and is slipped over the front and back supports. The front and back also have leather belt-like straps that tighten. The leather backrest slides down over two upturned side pieces that pivot and the armrests are leather straps that attach from the backrest to the front leg post. The chair is designed so that when a person sits on the seat and leans back, the weight of the sitter creates tension making a very sturdy, supportive and comfortable chair. The original chairs had enough flex to adjust to uneven ground.

My Story:  I discovered this chair when we were stationed in Bahrain in the early 1970s. I saw a couple at a friend's house and got all the information about the manufacturer. I called Mr. Hayat long-distance in Pakistan, to asked about the price and how to go about ordering a set. Mr. Hayat said he could ship them to me via Dhow and they would be ready in a few months. I ordered four. (I'm sure I couldn't have paid more than about $20-25 dollars for each chair since at that time, we didn't have a lot of money.)

After a good bit of time, I got a call from the Head of Customs in Manama, Bahrain, requesting that I come down to his office at the port to 'talk something over' with him. After scratching my head for a minute, I realized that the chairs had arrived. I assumed that some kind of import tax may be due, so I loaded my children up in the tiny car we had and headed downtown.

I was welcomed into the Head of Custom's office and we were made comfortable with soft chairs, sweets and casual chit-chat while a man went to get the reason for my visit. He arrived with a large canvas bag which he placed on the floor and stepped back. We all looked at the bag. The Head of Customs asked if this was my shipment. I said "Yes, I think so," sort of puzzled by the whole production.  I said there should be three more bundles just like this one. Mr. Customs asked if I would please open the bag. Puzzled even more, I said, "Sure" and then it dawned on me.

My chairs had been made and shipped from the area in Pakistan famous for handmade rifles and other firearms. Guns were forbidden in Bahrain. I was under suspicion of being a gun-runner!

I could hardly keep my amusement under control. I said, "It's a Chair! It comes all apart and fits into the bag. Here, let me show you." and while they (more men had trickled into the room by then) all took another step back, I opened the bag, pulled out the legs and supports, unrolled the leather back and seat and gave a demo, with running comment, on how to fit together a safari chair.

We've had the original four chairs since and, in the course of raising teenagers, one chair was enthusiastically flopped into and the back seat support got broken. So, it and the other three chairs have been stored in the basement for some time. One day while cruising the net, I happened to see an exact duplicate set of two chairs listed on an antique site. An Inquiry about price caused me to almost fall backward away from the computer screen. 

It sent me to the basement really fast to take a look at mine. I had wanted to replace the one, but couldn't even think of buying two (they Had to be sold as a pair). The asking price was incredible. Even with the wheedling I did with the seller got me a price reduction, but it was still just too high, so I shelved the idea and considered finding a woodworker who could either repair or replace the broken piece.

Within a few weeks, ANOTHER chair came up for auction on eBay. And this one included the ottoman shown in the picture. I had never seen an ottoman before in the Middle East and certainly not here either. I won the chair (at a considerably lower cost than the ones on the antique site) and after a space of some 26 years, had replaced the broken chair and got an ottoman too.

But it even gets better. After the sale, I found out that the man who had it lived within a short driving distance of our house. We arranged for a central meeting place for us to pick it up and had a very nice visit with him and his wife to boot. Turns out, he was very relieved because the chair had never been disassembled and he was worried about packing and shipping it.

But wait, there's more! Within about another week, YET ANOTHER Chair appeared on the web. It looked awful. But only because whoever had put it together did it incorrectly. The seat was looped around the side supports instead of the the back and front ones. The result was the chair sagged and the seat and back looked like they didn't fit. I bid on and got the second chair at an even greater bargain.

Footnote: The chair that had never been apart did disassemble easily. The only difference between it and my originals was a metal name plate attached to the back.

Since the spate of Safari chairs on the web, I haven't seen another listed. Occasionally, ones supplied with special edition Land Rovers, some canvas versions or or light brown leather ones designed in Denmark in the '50s and '60s will appear, but so far, no more black leather, brass and rosewood ones. 

----original post

Today:  If one or more of these chairs are within your budget and if you do or might live a mobile life, I highly recommend them as an investment that will stand the test of time. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Small Bowls

I love bowls.

They are the earliest evidences of humans found in archaeology, made across multi cultures and ages.

I collect them.
I could eat every meal out of them.
I love making them.
I've sold a lot of them.
Everybody likes bowls.
I don't think they are appreciated enough.
Every bowl made by an artist has a personality of it's own.

No two bowls are alike, even if they are made as a set. And why should they? They are like siblings in a family: Related, but individuals--that's the best kind of set to have, to my mind.

Besides, slight variations make a set of bowls so much more interesting than identical ones, to my mind.

This was in a museum show. I still have it.

An experiment with terra cotta, applied lines on greenware and a clear glaze overall.  It is an homage to early bowls with round bottoms. Desert peoples had no use for foot rings.

This one belongs to someone somewhere.

I love to use bowls to test glazes. This one was to see what 3 glazes would do over/under each other.  I use this bowl a lot.

This was a test of various glazes over a white base glaze.  Still have this one too.

Not the best shot, but the only one I have of a "Glaze Room Floor" glaze I loved while it lasted.

Great Coyote glaze inside called Rhubarb. Really nice paired with the sage green.

Glaze test.

I like to use small bowls to test glazes. And why not? I get a much better read of how the glaze behaves and a good bowl to boot.

Probably should be making 2 bowls to test--I Could sell one and keep one, right?

This was fun. I call this series "You Tiga Now." after the funny commercial.  It's just two glazes, but look at what I got.

The "Viking Bowl" design. Love rimmed bowls, but they don't stack well in a cabinet. The Coyote light shino broke well on the rim, though. Great for sloppy eaters.

Ah, my throwing mistake. The rim ran away from me, but I loved it. I wish I still had this bowl, but it got dropped and is no more.

Painting with underglazes on greenware. This is porcelain so, with a clear glaze, it is a nice white.

Dog bowl.

The previous and these two were made for a charity sale to support guide dog training.

A joke gets old when it's in porcelain, but the dogs don't mind.

Huh, you wish.

                                                                                                   *This is a very tiny bowl. It's a joke too. Chicken or egg kinda thing.

Tiny bowls are great for saving a half tomato. Just turn it over and put it in the bowl.

Little bowls are great for sea salt, dipping sauce--anything extra on the table like garnish, spice or extra seasoning.

*I know I've posted this before. Sorry. I hate repetition. Can you guess?

This bowl holds about 1 cup. Perfect for tea or a small serving of anything.
This tiny bowl holds any small  tidbit. A handy thing to have in the cupboard. (Glaze Test)

This last bowl is one of my favorites. I use it a lot. This form stacks well in the cupboard too.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Return to Semi-Normal

Well, sort of.......

Things are looking better.  I'm certainly getting acquainted with my household again. At least we can sleep in the house, I Can find towels, sheets, cooking utensils and dishes (although I'm still missing some of my everyday china. They're in a box somewhere......)

Of course, I very carefully packed away my ceramic works.  Guess what's important to me. heh

Soon, I will be able to reassemble my shelf units in the basement and unpack my pieces.

I was in town this morning to pick up a decorative life ring (couldn't find a real one small enough) to hang on the door of the house we have for sale. I had a Styrofoam blank that was just the right size, but wanted to find a ring to hang around the porthole set in the door.


We left the real marine supply store and were charging toward the brass nautical dealer's shop when we swerved into a new gallery en route. I loved all the great work inside and after talking to the owner, discovered he dealt with local artists only. I like that very much. So, I said I'd send him some jpegs of my work and came here, to my blog.

It wasn't until then I realized my work is not very well delineated or isolated within this blog. It's mixed in with other images as part of the discussion.

Also, my iPhoto files are giving me fits because they are so bloated. So,

I'm embarking on a project to try and show more of my work as groupings to relieve my image program files and define myself a bit more.

Some of the images have appeared before, but others have never been published.