In praise of low tech hardware and peonies

This painted cabinet had a pre-sale estimate of £200 – £300. The hammer came down at £600

When you don’t have access to screws and hardware let alone the resources to make them, you seek alternatives. That was just one of the features that drew me towards this cabinet on sale at Gorringes weekly sale this week in Lewes. I’ve had my head turned on more than one occasion this year by items that come under the umbrella of folk art. It’s my own umbrella btw used to categorise pieces of rustic furniture, sometimes also described as vernacular, decorated with naïve or impressionistic motifs. How ever crude these items appear to be on the surface, when you get up close the construction is often quite the opposite. This piece for instance features through wedged mortises, draw bored mortise and tenons and framed panels; in short everything you need to build a cabinet without the use of fixings and perhaps even glue. The pegs that make up the hinge aren’t dowels, they’re formed out of the board that makes the door and although the material is a pine of some kind there’s little sign of wear. Clever eh?

In what is typically a sea of mustard yellow and reddish brown on auction day you can’t help but be uplifted by these peonies. If I could stop the world right now and build anything, anyrhing at all, it would be a replica of this cabinet.

Top hinge peg
Bottom hinge peg
Bottom hinge slot
Bottom hinge slot with door in place