Great Storm debris turned into furniture

The Edward James table, made by a former student from a cedar tree stump
The Edward James table, made by a former student from a cedar tree stump

A CEDAR tree destroyed by lighting during the Great Storm of 1987 has been turned into an unusual piece of furniture.

Cabinetmaker Joseph Irving completed a West Dean diploma in furniture making.

During his time at the college he came across a cedar tree stump in the grounds.

The former student has now turned the West Dean cedar stump into a table celebrating the college’s founder Edward James.

“The Edward James Table was inspired by my time at the college,” said Mr Irving.

“The stump had been left grounded until 2010 and I saw huge potential within the grains.

“I counted 117 rings in total, meaning the tree had been alive since 1870.

“With this in mind, I was passionate not to let this beautiful cedar go to waste.

“Influenced by the life of the tree, I wanted to create a piece of furniture which will be admired for another hundred years as a work of art, giving the tree a new life and a story of its own.”

West Dean furniture tutor Norbert Gutowski said the slice of cedar lived in the college courtyard while Joe was mulling the project over.

“He discussed possibilities with his peers and occasionally chipped away at it to discover its potential,” he said.

The finished work, called The Edward James Table, incorporates the dates of significant historical moments related to the college, Edward James and the cabinetmaker.

The table top is made from cedar with weathered glass detail. Inlaid with the grains are nine brass plaques, which each represent a significant year between 1870 and 1987.

The base of the table is made from American rock maple and each leg has been turned and shaped by hand and includes carved initials and numbers.

During Joe’s time studying for his West Dean Diploma he was the beneficiary of a bursary from The Edward James Foundation.

With support from other funding, The Edward James Foundation offers scholarship awards and bursaries to people interested in studying at West Dean.

In 2014, a new award to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation will be given to a postgraduate student who shows outstanding work in their field.