There are some advantages to having a public library with an older collection. I came across this gem, complete with the cellophane-like cover protector, and had to check it out. Franklin Gottshall was a prolific writer of books on woodworking and reproducing period furniture, teaching at industrial art programs. I couldn’t find much biography, but he is mentioned in Raymond McInnis’ fabulous online history of woodworking. Gotshall distilled his design ideas into this book in 1940. It is exciting to read the articulation of concepts that I sensed intuitively but wasn’t able to name. The most intriguing was the chapter on the curved line.
Gottshall’s Rule 47, “A beautiful curve should have no straight line in its entire composition.” At first this seemed redundant–yeah, it’s a curve, not a straight line. . .but when making swirls in mosaic, there is a tendency to get on a straightaway before you even realize it.
Thanks to Gottshall I now know that one of my favorite designs is called a “reverse curve” and Rule 48 “The reverse curve is always most beautiful if it curls more quickly on one bend than on another.” So rather than a perfectly symmetrical “S” shape, there is a gentle beginning and a rather cat tail-like curling in on the other end. It’s probably the librarian in me that enjoys this classification aspect, but becoming aware of the different design tools in making a craft ultimately enriches the creative process.
I was deep into the reverse curves with this mirror, shown here courtesy of Stratoz. A 2-foot by 2-foot frame is a lot of surface area to cover in curves! After awhile my head felt kind of swirly as well. Through Gottshall I also discovered that one of my favorite shapes is called a “volute.” And one of the volutes in this world is the nautilus shell, which inspired a mosaic mandala. I am currently working on another nautilus commission, and enjoying the unfolding.