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“What an excellent show – well worth the journey (252 miles).” [PW]

18th-27th August 2018

Johnson Furniture - Expandind Dining Table

Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design


18th - 27th August 2018


Johnson Furniture - Expanding Dining Table

Johnson Furniture will be returning to Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design this year bringing with them a new version of their popular expanding dining table that stole the show last year! 

Dining tables are George’s passion. “The surface of the table offers the perfect canvas to display the most beautiful timbers to their full potential.”  (image shows top view of the dining table).

The first expanding circular dining tables were made by Robert Jupe in the 1830s. They were a stunning combination of design and engineering, and now command high prices at auction. The only drawback with the tables was the need for a separate storage cabinet for the expansion leaves. These then had to be carried to the table and slotted into place.

Building on the work of Jupe, George has created a table where the expansion leaves are stored within the body of the piece, and rise up automatically as it rotates. The unique unfolding star shape allows for a compact mechanism suited to a large range of table sizes.

Jason Heap, director of Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design is a committed advocate of using responsibly sourced timber and is personally passionate about using local timbers whenever possible.  As such it is always a pleasure to understand a little more about the timber that has been used in particular projects. Geroge’s newest table is made from a fantastic example of Brown Oak burr veneer.

They say an oak tree spends 300 years growing, 300 years surviving, and 300 years dying.  The tree from which the veneer on this table came was at least 825 years old, we know because George has told us that the growth rings were counted!  It was at the end of its life, so rather than watch it decay and return slowly to the ground, it was harvested and turned into beautiful veneer. 

The tree was growing in the middle of a cattle pasture on a large Gloucestershire estate, complete with castle!  It was a great distance from any road, standing all by itself with a huge tattered crown and extraordinary girth.

The tree was a "Pollard" tree in its early life.  Oak was the best of the woods available for fence rails and posts. When the branches of a tree are cut away, the stump will sprout new growth and, after several years, this new growth will be large enough-to be used for fencing. (The branches will have to be cut high enough from the ground, above the browse height of cattle, or the cows will eat all the new shoots and the stump will die). If this pollarding is continued for many years, eventually a huge warty mass will result on the top of the stump, hence, a huge mass of Burr (image shows sections of the Burr).

There was clearly a sense of pride in the history of the tree, time was given by those who felled it to think about the history and events that the tree survived through:

“The tree was a sapling at the start of the 13th century.  We imagine what Britain was like then, think about the changes in our civilization over the life span of this tree.  The Magna Carta was still not written, (1215), Thomas Aquinas was not yet living (1260), none of the mature, high Gothic cathedrals were even started, Chartres still was roofless, and Marco Polo was about to start his journey to Cathay. Our tree was growing in the woods then, not a cow pasture as now; and the Cotswold was the very frontier of English (more properly Saxon-Norman) society, still four or five hundred years before the Tudors and Stuarts.

Why wasn't our tree cut down to staunch the Armada? Why wasn't it sacrificed two hundred and fifty years later at Trafalgar? Why wasn't it just turned into building timbers or pickle barrels or fire wood? Because it was too big, too old, too likely to be rotten and finally too far out into the pasture to be pulled out by any available means!”

We believe that the timber has been put to the most spectacular use in this special piece by Jonhnson Furniture which is sure to become a cherished centrepiece in a new home continuing the tree's life in it's new guise.

A video showing the piece and the wonderfully smooth mechanism can be viewed here. 



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