By Hound & Eye Book Review

There are times when I’ll sit in my office with a blank drawing sheet on my drafting application and stare aimlessly into space. I acquit it to writers block for a draftsman or the designer. Nothing comes. So I’ll argue with myself, luckily my office is insulated and the family upstairs is unable to hear my insanity I hope. I’ll tell myself that if only I had a drafting board I would be more creative. I work best with my hands. So, I find my make shift drafting board and said accomplices but still nothing comes. It was in one of these fits that I came across a book, that appeared as though it was just for me. That book was By Hound & Eye.

By Hound & Eye is authored by Geo. R. Walker and Jim Tolpin and was illustrated by Andrea Love. The book can be purchased directly from the Lost Art Press for $27.00 USD. By Hound & Eye is a how-to, designers guide for creating pleasing proportional creations. The authors are both avid woodworkers with years of design and construction experience and have another book By Hand & Eye.

By Hound & Eye is all about simplifying the design process of furniture using simple tools and sound techniques. The book breaks down the content into four discrete sections beginning with points and lines and ending with solids, I.E. furniture. From the back cover of the book, the reader is inclined to believe he or she will return from their journey with a better understanding of geometric construction techniques and a backpack of simple tools.

From the first page, I found myself enthralled in the book and was easily able to read through it in its entirety in a single weekend. I found the progression of topics from points and lines to planes, curves and finally solids to be easy to follow and well thought out. Each section of the book provided ample explanation of the topic and instruction on the use of the tools required. The authors also provided space in the book for the reader to practice his or her drawing techniques, such as lines to be bisected or smooth curves to be drawn at selected transition points.

The “journey” is narrated by two cartoon characters, the “journeyman” and his dry witted, sarcastic dog “Sydney.” The humor was a nice addition to the book and caused my wife to look curiously in my direction often as I burst out laughing at what appeared to be completely random moments. However, I also found that it was possible to get lost in the cartoon pictures and humor, and I’d have to reread a section again.

The book suggests “tossing” out that pesky tape measure to design instead with a small backpack of simple tools. While the idea sounds freeing, I found it most difficult to do. The idea they present is that by using whole number proportions your furniture will relate to itself rather than to some external object and therefore be more aesthetically pleasing. In addition to that, scaling a piece to fit any location would mean simply scaling your “module” and thus maintaining all internal proportions.

I agree with the authors that furniture designs, that are built using this method, are far more appealing. That being said, I’ve found the overall design process to be much more difficult. We live in a world where everything is measured and calculated. The mainstream CAD applications are simply not designed for this type of drafting, which means using this method for design will require paper and pencil.

All and all I have found the book fun to read, informative and a boost to my creative nature. I have read the book three times thus far, and I am working on my fourth iteration while writing this review. Why so many times? While the concepts alone are not complicated nor are they hard to apply, I’ve found that using them all together to design a piece of furniture with out the aid of a tape measure is far more difficult than I would have thought. Reviewing the book helps inspire me to continue and not simply go back to CAD, where I can erase a million times. I wold highly recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in designing beautiful inner proportional pieces or to the designer interested in how they used to design in the days gone by.


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