David Norcross

Worthy Old Oak

Olive and Maggie

Maggie and Olive

Life has been busy in my little household. We welcomed Maggie Ann into the world on February 8th and my days have been a blur over the past 6 weeks. Being a baby daddy again is awesome and looking at my two daughters I can’t help but feel blessed. When possible I step out into the garage and get back to pushing paint. Time is tight right now, but I have managed to get a few things done.

Lately I have been painting cabinet cards and have been really excited about where they’re headed. I’m waiting until I have worked my way through all the images I have to write a post on these. In the meantime, I did a piece for my nephews first birthday. I will refrain from posting any pictures so that there isn’t any Disney copyright funny business. I also completed a commission that I got around Christmastime. I was secretly given an oak board that measured 10.5 by 48 inches with a note attached providing me its history.

Project materials

Project materials

The board is the only remaining piece of a dresser that had been in my wife’s (Katie) family for generations. The dresser was built by her great grandfather as a wedding gift for his daughter (Katie’s grandmother). Twenty years or so passed and the wood was transformed with a green stain and found its way into the childhood bedroom of Katie’s mother in New Jersey. The dresser was disassembled in the late 70’s and the wood made its way to Florida. No longer a dresser, Katie’s grandfather utilized the oak to make numerous projects including magazine racks for all five of his children. All that remained of the original dresser built by her great grandfather in the 40’s was this board. When her grandfather died in 1997, Katie’s Aunt Joyce saved the wood and held onto it for nearly 20 years. This past Christmas she sent it to me and asked if I would create something new out of it for Katie’s parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. She gave me all of this history and told me how important this board was to her because it was something her grandfather had touched.

So that’s where this project began. I was definitely feeling the pressure because its not like I could just start over if I didn’t like the direction things were going. So I took a few months to think about what I wanted to do and once I had a general idea, I asked my wife for input. She helped select the design, which is based on a quilt square called the Virginia Star (symbolic because her mother and father met, married and have made their lives in Virginia) as well as choose the color palette. I wanted to create something folky and a quilt square seemed like a natural direction to go in. My grandmother is an amazing quilter and I have always loved looking and her work. She has been very prolific, making at least one quilt for her three children as well as one for all eight of her grandchildren as a wedding gift. So making a painting based on a quilt for an anniversary gift made sense to me. I cut the board into two pieces, shaped the outside edges, attached the two together and painted my star. As a finishing touch, I added a section of wood salvaged from an old highboy cabinet that belonged to Katie’s paternal grandfather thus incorporating something from the past of the two people for which the project was made.

I started dating my wife in 1998. So I never had the privilege of meeting her grandfather, but because he was maker like myself, I feel like I can get to know who he was through his projects. That has a lot of value for me. As I get older it feels harder to relate to others. I don’t feel like I have a lot in common with most people outside of my obsession with art, but I think we could have bonded over our love of making things with our hands. Her grandfather lives on in the things he made for his loved ones. And honestly, is there anything more important you could do than leave something you made behind to tell your story? I am honored that I got to add a layer to this worthy old oak board.

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3 comments

  1. Beautiful baby, beautiful piece! I think you did the wood much justice, now it can get appreciated anew. Now I wanna see you riff on the quilt square! What would a David Norcross quilt square look like….

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