Louis Pasteur (1822-1905) did important research into crystallography; into fermentation in the production of wine, beer, and vinegar; into the diseases of silkworms; and into human diseases such as anthrax, cholera, and rabies. He is best known for his research into and promotion of sterilization of certain liquids by heat, a process which soon came to be called pasteurization. I well remember the foul-tasting pasteurized milk which was routinely the only sort used in tea on British construction sites until refrigerators became commonplace. However, worthy as Pasteur’s research is of further description, this article is founded on his well-known and accurate statement made during an address in 1854, “Where observation is concerned, chance favours only the prepared mind”.
Between 2006 and 2009 I lived in Jersey (figure 1), not New in America, but old just off the coast of France. Legally Jersey is a bailiwick, ruled by Elizabeth Windsor, Duke of Normandy. It isn’t therefore part of the United Kingdom, but is part of Great Britain. Unlike Australia, Jersey is generously endowed with castles, churches, and chapels dating from the Middle Ages.
I hope you won’t find it presumptuous for me to claim that I have a reasonably prepared mind where woodturning design is concerned. Having written a 280-page book titled Woodturning Design, and numerous articles on the subject, I believe gives substance to my claim. Therefore when in a new location I am perhaps more likely to notice design features which are unusual and/or remarkable. I usually just store their memories away for future use. In this article I describe five from Jersey’s capital, St Helier.
Chapter 12 of Woodturning Design is 70 pages long and covers the design of columns. Those who installed the fibreglass columns to the humble office-building portico in figure 2 had singularly unprepared minds because they put them in upside down. Or perhaps they had migrated from Greece or Rhodes and were too influenced by the columns of ancient Mycenae which are among the few types which have shafts which taper downwards.
Mitred corners in rectangular frames open as the moisture content of the framing members (often called architraves) departs from the original. A solution on the 19th-century Jersey town house shown in figures 3 and 4 utilizes the corner block or patera. The architraves need to be symmetrical in cross section, and are best run first. You then turn the paterae to match as shown in figure 5.
A few houses further north is the doorway shown in figures 6 and 7, ornamented with split turnings and richly stained and varnished. It might not be to everybody’s taste, but it enlivens the streetscape.
I had never seen roll billet mouldings in the flesh until I turned the example shown on page 143 of Woodturning Design. This entrance to Jersey General Hospital (figures 8 and 9) is a rare example, although here carved in Chausey granite rather than turned and carved in wood.
The final example, shown in figures 10 and 11, is an outside-light shade of spherical form. Whether it’s a one-off or was manufactured in quantity, I don’t know.
I hope that the examples shown confirm that preparing the mind pays off. You increase your design vocabulary, have a more interesting time when you visit new places, and, but I doubt that Pasteur would have been impressed, can show off your perspicacity to those within earshot.