Phoenix Rising – Table
Fenghuang Table by Thomas Elsner Smith
My idea for this table came from the “Inspired by China” furniture exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. I titled the piece Phoenix after the mythical bird. The Chinese Phoenix (Fenghuang) symbolizes the union of grace and power.
I chose to use maple for construction because it is closed grain and would have minimal influence on the surface. The finish starts with dark mahogany dye and a seal coat. Vermillion Japan paint was layered over the dye and then carefully abraded to expose the dye. Several layers of vinyl sealer and dull catalyzed lacquer were applied and hand rubbed to give the piece a non-reflective appearance.
Phoenix’s style is modern with an Asian influence. It is meant to catch the eye and stimulate conversation. The fiery finish suggests power. The feet and off camber legs add to the exaggerated height to project a sense of grace. The shallow depth of this table causes an unsettling perspective, but creates interest. The winged table top leaves something for interpretation: Is it a Chinese altar or does it suggest a Phoenix?
Phoenix Rising - Table
Phoenix - Table Corner
Phoenix - Table Legs
Phoenix - Underneth Table