This wall mirror was built as a companion piece to a bench I created for a client to fit into a small area in her entryway. Since the walnut had been harvested off of her property I knew that the wood had special meaning to her.
I had actually designed this particular mirror several years before but never made it. Due to the nature of my design process I generate several viable ideas for any given project. Because I only build one of those ideas I am left with lots and lots of other good ideas in my sketchbook looking for the right opportunity. The bench provided the perfect opportunity for this particular design. I wanted to compliment the horizontal nature of the bench with a mirror that was strongly vertical in nature. Also, the sweeping curves and kinetic feel to the mirror echoed the curves of the bench seat and kinetic feel of the bench stretchers.
I created the curved ‘arms’ of the mirror using a technique known as steam bending. I steamed the ‘blanks’ (the wood that would eventually become the arms) for about two hours, put them in a metal bending strap, then wrapped them around a bending form. This was the thickest wood I’d ever steam bent before and I needed a boost from a come-along and ratchet straps in order to complete the bend. Once the arms were bent I let them dry in their new configuration for about 10 days. After this drying period the wood will never remember that it was formerly a straight board.
Although the arms started out quite chunky (about 2″ x 2″) they ended up quite slender. I shaped and sculpted them by hand to include hardlines. I feel that furniture should be explored as much with the fingers as with the eyes and I find hardlines to provide a tactile element to the piece. I wanted the arms to give the illusion of cradling the mirror with no visible means of support. The overall form of the mirror makes me think of a spiral galaxy and that was the inspiration for the name.
The piece was finished with a blend of boiled linseed oil, turpentine and spar varnish and hand rubbed to a soft luster.