Hand-carved Burl and Leather Club Chair and Ottoman
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Juniper legs and knotty pole work frame a pair of Chris Chapman’s hand-carved leather side panels on this leather club chair by John Gallis of Norseman Designs West. The rich coffee-colored leather of the chair and ottoman cushions is accented by taupe leather piping, which in turn reflects the natural pattern and coloration of the pine and juniper pole work. Hand-selected to compliment Chris’s leather carvings, the chair’s pine legs were undoubtedly pulled from John’s extensive wood lot, hand-carved, sanded, and oiled to perfection.
This collaboration between John and Chris is indicative of the level of craftsmanship achieved by two of the most attentive and detail-oriented artists at By Western Hands. Chris’s carvings represent countless hours of shaping and smoothing saddle leather in low relief, while drawing out the curved horn of the big horn sheep until it extends several inches from the panel’s surface. Likewise, John committed countless hours to the collecting, sanding, polishing, and applying of over 100 bullet casings as accents along the arms and top of the ottoman.
A native of Long Island, John established a lucrative career building custom cabinetry for Bloomingdale’s before moving west to Cody, Wyoming. He worked for a local furniture maker in town before opening Norseman Designs West, where he created his own line of awardwinning high-end western furniture. John combines the simple honesty of Shaker style with the flowing curves of Art Nouveau. Wood is his favorite medium; it is warm and forgiving, and he enjoys incorporating different textures into his pieces. He finds that each species of wood has its own unique scent and characteristics. He particularly likes working with walnut and juniper, as they blend well and complement each other. John searches out exotic examples of these woods, focusing on their figure and grain to enhance the overall look of the piece itself. He says he tries not to overwork the wood to be something it’s not. John gains inspiration from nature and by studying the work of the masters, from Shaker to Stickley, from Art Nouveau to Cody’s own Thomas Molesworth. John’s son, Ian, has been working with him for the past fifteen years and plans to continue the Gallis legacy into the next generation. Whether crafted by the father or son, each Norseman Designs West piece is highly refined, elegantly composed, and decidedly original.