Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thomas Day Artifacts

Stair bracket design

B Mcgee posting.

Information and images based upon the book

Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color
By Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll

Thomas Day became well known for his stairways.  The authors write that "Day imbued everything he built with robust and idiosyncratic motifs, undulating shapes, fluid lines, and spiraling forms that burst with energy and movement, all of which reveal the distinctive mark of his brilliance." He usually relied upon pattern books to derive his stair designs and then modified them according to his own interpretations.  On at least a dozen staircases he took this modified design from the bracket motif and applied it to the stairlanding frieze as shown here from the Badgett House.   

Day used the stair bracket design as a major design integration for the rest of the stair design.  He specifically used it to highlight the newel design. He duplicated the newel design in the stair bracket in order to visually link the entire staircase.

Instead of a literal copy of the pattern books he created his own interpretation of a leaf design with this leaf-and-vine design.  Day crafted his designs showing off his abilities as a master cabinetmaker and skilled architectural woodworker.  The visual distinctiveness of each stair shows Day's ability to customize for each of his clients and his high quality of resources and equipment in his shop. 

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