Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Barley Twist - antique furniture!


Ornate Antique Oak Barley Twist Stool
One of my weaknesses when it comes to antiques, and I have a few, is late 19th century oak barley twist furniture.  The smooth deep patina and the soft gentle curves is so sexy. Really! The first antique furniture I ever bought was a barley twist - and I've been hooked ever since.  I can't imagine the time, patience, and experience it would have taken to be able to hand carve the curve just right. Many an apprentice were probably driven made by their woodworking masters with this design! Even looking at how these are made on lathe makes me crazy. See these videos if you like. 

Aka Rope Twist, Barley Sugar Twist, Sugar Twist.  

To me it's just heavenly.  




In college, my apartment was 3 miles from campus. I walked past an antique store twice a day for two years.  One of the first trips I saw an antique oak table in the window with twisted legs. It was just so interesting to me. Every now and then I would go into the store to browse - albeit to really see where they have moved "my table."  The summer before I graduated I traveled to Europe; backpacking with the masses. Upon entering the Vatican, and St. Peters Basilica, it was hard for me to miss the Bernini Alter with barley twist pillars holding up the canopy The photo on the left captures what I felt like at that moment.  (Peter's altar and baldachino, an astounding bronze pavilion by Bernini, Photo by Ricardo Frantz, source here.)  
Antique Oak Barley Twist Gate Leg Table - English ?
After that summer trip, I continued to look at that antique oak barley twist table every day with renewed perspective and great memories of Europe. Oh yeah, I had to have that table now! Then when I completed college, I pulled up my U-haul at the antique store and bought it in addition to a dozen depression glass wine stems. The table cost me $150 - I think it was well worth it. The wine glasses are long gone. Oak lives on. Here is the gate-leg, oak Barley-Twist table I purchased - still in use today, some 30 years later (OMG!), and it will make a great hand-me-down to another antique lover some day! One thing to look at when considering barley twist furniture is if the direction of the twist on each leg or piece matches. On this table the left hand side of each twist is lower and it rises to the right - not all pieces are symmetrical.  The clock photo below is an example of the twist angle varying from side to side on a single piece. 

While you can see Barley Twist in several types of wood. I am crazy about Victorian era, and during this time most of the barley twist items were made from oak. Originally the Barley Twist was used as a more decorative support for large pieces of furniture - like chairs, tables, and sideboards. Over time, they became decorative pieces as embellishments.  The stool in the first photo above is a great example of ornate - someone told me that this stool could be for milking because of the hole/grip in the top. That would have to be some fancy barn :)
OK - here are a few pieces from my collection. My motto - no room is complete without a little barley twist!
Antique Oak and Wicker
 Barley Twist Drop Top End Table


Antique Oak Barley Twist Secretary -
Gothic brass details, leather mat inside

Barley Twist Antique Tiger Oak Mantle Clock


Antique Oak Barley
Twist Leg  End Table


Thanks for looking - happy antique hunting

Teresa Marie