Saturday, May 23, 2020

the 'Viking' Chair ....

Yet another New Age Cash Cow design.

Duplicated from that web site *

(the following expanded from a recent small group discussion)

The discussion had started with a reference link to a video posted on 'BongBong' (1) :
The presenter there gives absolutely no historic / source reference, beyond 'I saw this at a friend's place' (so alarm bells most certainly should be ringing?)

I had first seen this design in the mid 1970's. At that point it was part of the 'Nomadic Furniture' movement.
The name back then was 'star gazer' chair.

A fast internet search?

Attributes published plans through the Boy Scouts of America back to the 1930's (2)
" The chair may often be associated with the Vikings and the peoples that used to live in the north of Europe, but there is actually no evidence to prove where exactly it first came from. Some artifacts indicate that, most probably, this type of chair originated from Africa. The chair came to Europe in the 19th century, and it was popular in the early 20th century. "

I thought I had seen the design in the original 'Nomadic Furniture' book (from about 1976). I remember the design being a bit different - with a jig saw used to make a long U shaped cut into a single plank. This gave the upright to back board two narrow feet. (This making sense?) I did check my 'new and revised' copy of that book - and did not find an illustration. I know I have notes in a drawing book from those days - someplace.

The chain of 'association with the Vikings' is itself an interesting piece of 'fake-lore'.

As Bruce says, the design was seen at 'Buckskinner' events in the later 1970's, then quickly adopted into the SCA at events like Pennsic about the same time. From the SCA it appears to have shifted over into 'early period'  camps (where there are very few artifact samples of any seating known.) I had never heard of it referenced as specifically a 'Viking Chair' until start of the whole Viking craze from around 2000 onwards.

Increasingly, with television being the reference (instead of actual history), there is the factor of pure laziness - and has been suggested by others here, simple false descriptions used to cash in.

On construction and durability.
The first versions of these I saw where mainly 12 inch wide by 2 inch commercial lumber. Older version plans I had seen called for 3/4 thick plywood. And often made of hardwood (oak or maple) not modern 'construction grade' spruce!
Given how difficult it is to get wide cut planks these days - I suspect a lot of people are using narrower boards. And as Bruce and Fred would certainly agree, the quality of commercial lumber of late is absolutely pathetic.
Your choice of material here will be critical to both balance and weight bearing...

Packs flat - yes
Easy to make - yes
Cheap to construct - depends
A bit awkward to use - yes
Historic ?
Not a chance - blame some old hippies

(1) BongBong describes itself as "The award-winning zine, blog and directory of mostly wonderful things."
From a (very) fast look over the offerings, there is a combination of 'maker's space' and political / social commentaries. All supported by an extensive on line retail store. (Donated content, likely given for personal fame, someone else getting the income generated - and with you giving up any copyrights to submitted materials.)

(2) That web site certainly had very clear plans (as pdf downloads) and easy to follow instructions!

* Images used without permission! - Original source links supplied.
I have started copying, saving and directly posting images sourced off the internet. This is because when I look back to earlier entries here, increasingly I am finding images missing, as web sites simply disappear.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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