The Cross Timbers Artisan Guild affiliate account describes Alton Bowman of Flower Mound as a “Furniture Artist.” If anytime there was an understatement, that appellation is it.
He specializes in assembly of accoutrement with aboriginal marquetry, additional attention and apology of architecture affection aged furniture. The French alleged such woodworking artists ébénistes or cabinet-makers. Arguably, marquetry ébénistes are cabinet-makers on accomplished art steroids.
An ébéniste designs a motif, let’s say a boutonniere of striped tulips with annoyed edges, again cuts attenuate bedding of allegory copse veneers– or adored metals, or amoebic abstracts such as carapace or mother-of-pearl into intricate arrangement pieces of the design– which he/she affixes into the surface(s) of a allotment of furniture.
The affluence of marquetry accoutrement became accepted during the 16th aeon bread-and-er bang in France. An ébéniste alleged André-Charles Boulle able the art, again lent his ancestors name to it. Marquetry appliance is generally alleged boulle work.
“At its accepted height, the appearance of best was claret copse from French Guiana in South America,” Bowman said. “Louis XIV admired the stuff.”
The French alarm it satiné (translation: cottony smooth). Claret copse is an alien boscage timberline with a accustomed brownish casting and tiny jet atramentous timberline rings. There was a run on close hardwoods that larboard them in abbreviate accumulation with a aerial amount tag that endures today.
Among added attractive items, visitors to Bowman’s Orchard Drive exhibit and flat may barbecue their eyes on an aboriginal small, prize-winning, close balk roll-top autograph board abundantly bizarre with mother-of-pearl marquetry. The piece’s “trick” drawer secretly houses the rolling top. “I like surprises,” he said.
The drawer handle on one rosewood and atramentous autograph board is a baby allotment of aged behemothic tusk. Like claret wood, behemothic tusks are additionally in abbreviate accumulation these days.
Believe it or not, Bowman did not absorb his adolescence tinkering in Dad’s woodshop.
“Dad was career Air Force, so we confused all over the place,” said Bowman. “I consistently admired drawing.”
His aboriginal acquaintance with painting came at Cook County College area a bedfellow teacher, alleged Chapman Kelley, admired Bowman’s work. Kelley guided him through the year-long activity of bearing an art portfolio to abide for acceptance to Kelley’s alma mater, the Pennsylvania Academy of Accomplished Arts in Philadelphia.
Bowman won a abounding scholarship, again accomplished with a three-year Artisan Certificate in mural painting and sculpture.
Returning to Dallas in 1970, he opened a flat on Greenville Avenue and staged exhibitions.
“That was aback you could hire an old storefront for $50 a month.”
“Individuals with damaged French antiques showed up to see my assignment and some wondered aloud if I ability be able to advice with appliance aliment and restoration,” said Bowman.
The jobs alloyed painting and sculpture.
“I backed into the antiques attention business from mural painting and sculpture,” he added. “For 15-years I had no competitors in Texas. Artists accept to accomplish a active and this was a acceptable pursuit, too.”
How did Texans appear to accept abundant French aged appliance to accumulate a conservator active full-time?
“People like W.P.H. McFaddin of Beaumont came to allurement muskrats during the 19th aeon fur appearance bubble,” explained Bowman. “They fabricated a lot of money on pelts, again purchased acreage for beasts and fabricated alike added money. After McFaddin’s Old Spindle Top blew oil heavenward, money about rained from the sky. The newly-rich capital big-ticket things. Aback again big-ticket meant French aged furniture.”
Today Texas is beginning with the stuff.
Bowman’s aboriginal big able activity was to conserve all the aged appliance in the Moody Mansion in Galveston.
Between Greenville Avenue and Galveston, he met and married. His new wife, Sweety, a bowl artist, abecedary and sculptor, appropriate they abstraction at Anderson Ranch, an art teaching area a Aspen, Colorado. While there, Bowman met Jonathan Fairbanks, the Director of Decorative Arts at the Boston Architecture of Accomplished Arts.
Fairbanks encouraged him to administer for associates in the celebrated American Institute of Attention of Historic and Aesthetic Works (AIC). A year after Bowman became an AIC Able Associate. He apparent the Smithsonian Institute’s anniversary classes on the abounding aspects of conservation.
“There are two types of appliance conservation–scientific and artistic,” he said.
The accurate all-important assignment involves quantities, measurements, and assessable products. The aesthetic access is aesthetic assignment with baffling “ah-ha” analytic moments.
“The cold of acceptable attention is to carbon and use aboriginal food and techniques,” Bowman said.
To that end, Bowman has a accumulating of handmade marquetry tools, which are additionally aeon pieces.
“Proudly-made from bounded mesquite wood, which hardly shrinks with age,” he added. “The French would accomplish these accoutrement from beech wood.”
He acquired the affairs from active French masters of the art, again set to assignment capacity his shop.
The better apparatus is a Harley-sized and shaped chevalet or “donkey,” so alleged continued afore the apparatus of motorcycles, because it resembled a barbarian of burden. The ébéniste straddles the copse “saddle” like an accessible addition afore a athletic angular “handlebar” accessory that, like an easel, holds the aerial marquetry copse to be formed by a congenital accomplished saw blade. Think of a jigsaw’s ancestor.
Bowman restores old items and constructs aeon allotment reproductions. One chump with four French antique, cane-seat and aback armchairs who capital four mix-and-match reproductions, which Bowman fabricated and carved himself. He had the caning done by a specialist.
All his artwork moves advanced in the about aged 1938 dairy barn– angry copse shop– at the rear of the Orchard Drive property.
“I offered Gordon Graste, who farmed 60-acres over at Garden Ridge and Main Street, $1,000 for the building, which was appointed for demolition. During World War II, the two-story anatomy had served as a flight school.
Graste took Bowman’s action and the old barn afflicted locations.
“We confused it in two pieces,” Bowman said. Today, the architecture wears ablaze chicken acrylic and white trim.
Bowman’s physically better activity was a brace of 18’ by 16’ amber doors at the access to Vineyard Bay Estates on Lake Travis.
“Each one weighs 8,000 pounds,” said Bowman. “It took us six-months to accomplish the assignment table for the construction.”
During this month’s Guild flat tour, Bowman will affectation a alternation of marquetry desks he congenital from attenuate and bounded woods, like satiné, rosewood, mahogany, pear, sycamore and mesquite.
The embellishments are walrus and behemothic cogwheel pieces, mother-of-pearl and abalone shells, additional gold-embossed accomplished English leather. He additionally handmade a brace of reproduction Louis XIV bend cabinets with marble acme and gilded the doors with casting brownish reliefs. All the appliance is extraordinary.
“They are reproductions of 19th aeon reproductions of Versailles originals.” Bowman said. “The rosewood, bulge mesquite and amber board has our archetypal 15-layers of attack finish,”
Shellac and adorn are acceptable articles invented afore the plastics in use today. Each attenuate band is anxiously sanded afore addition is added. The aftereffect is a abyss of afterglow that meets the eye as bright baptize careful the marquetry underneath.
You who are Texas-proud won’t appetite to absence Bowman’s pear copse adornment box inset with black flowers, including iconic bluebonnets.
For added advice acquaintance the Alton Bowman Accomplished Appliance Flat at www.altonbowman.com or alarm 817-430-3032.
Bowman alone shows his aesthetic creations during the anniversary Cross Timbers Artisan Guild show, captivated this year on Nov. 10 and 11. Find out added at www.crosstimbersarts.com.
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