Sgabello di Fossacesia #2: It Came to Me In a Dream .. Sort of ..

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Blog entry by Woodbridge posted 08-15-2014 10:42 PM 4363 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Make a Chair From an Oar Part 2 of Sgabello di Fossacesia series Part 3: Stop Dreaming – Start Working! »

The evening I received the oar my mind was racing, thinking of how I might use it in a chair project. I went to bed but couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. What kind of chair could I build?

I knew that the oar was long enough that I could cut two legs out of the bottom portion and use the top piece for the back leg and chair back. I could make a three legged chair with a long slender back. That’s the kind of chair I build most often.

Now if you are going to build a chair from an oar, the chair has to have some connection to water or the sea

In 2012 Popular Woodworking published an article about building an Irish chair and my first thought was to build some type of ancient Irish Sligo or Tuam style chair.

These are three leg chairs with a simple slender back.

But since the oar had a connection to an Italian boat I thought perhaps the chair should have some type of Italian theme. During my visit New York’s Met in 2012 I saw a Sgabello. It is a 16th century Italian chair, used primarily as a hallway or side chair. It was made with flat seat, slender high back and three legs. Now that was a possibility.

So perhaps I could use the oar to build a chair based on an Italian Sgabello.

Now as you move south from Pescara along the Adriatic coast you pass through a number of seaside towns.
One such town is called Fossacesia (foss -a-chess- see-a) ia . My paternal grandfather left Fossacesia in 1925 and settled in Canada.

Along this portion of the Adriatic coast-line , the Trabocchi (tra-bow-key) coastline, you will see numerous ramshackle looking piers with a little hut on it, used for fishing. These fishing piers are called trabocchi .
My idea was developing and I decided the back of the chair would include a marquetry panel depicting a trabocchi. Ihad taken a number of marquetry seminars and wanted to try my hand at this outside the seminar setting.)

This portion of the chair would represent the sea.

The second part of the town of Fossacesia is built up on this hillside overlooking the Adriatic sea. Much of these hills are covered with olive groves. In fact Fossacesia is known for one of Italy’s most ancient olive trees planted between 700 – 1000 A.D. So it came to me that I could use a piece of olivewood for the seat of the chair. The olive wood would represent the land.

I had the concept for my chair project resolved. I would build a three leg chair in the style of an Italian sgabello that represents the town of Fossacesia. The sea would be represented by the oak oar with a marquetry panel of a Trabocchi. The land would be represented by an olivewood seat. My project would be called Fossa – chair – sia.

It was now about four in the morning and I finally fell to sleep.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

9 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8399 posts in 3337 days

#1 posted 08-15-2014 11:08 PM

OK Peter, you have my attention.
Italy, marquetry, and the sea …... three of my very favourite things. (Chairs are OK too.)
Like Klaus, I too am a sucker for nostalgia and this is a wonderful story steeped in nostalgia.
This promises to be a great blog, I’m aboard for the ride.


I’m going to have to add the Trabocchi coast to my itinerary next time I go to Italy. It looks spectacular. I’ve been as close as Bari form the south and Venezia from the north but haven’t really been close to your ancestral region.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View DocSavage45's profile


8872 posts in 3381 days

#2 posted 08-15-2014 11:57 PM


I’m hooked! LOL! You are a three legged Chair Encyclopedia, and history lesson, with a little tour guide thrown in. Looking for Chapter Three!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3842 days

#3 posted 08-16-2014 12:29 AM

wow, this is something…now i feel the need to study italian….i cant wait to see this…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Woodbridge's profile


3692 posts in 2957 days

#4 posted 08-16-2014 02:24 AM

Tom. Grizz, Paul thanks for the comments and I’m glad you are enjoying the trip. The next chapter will actually deal with some woodworking.

Paul, the Abruzzi region is one of the best undiscovered places in Italy. One of the best views we had during our trip was looking down over the Adriatic from the old abbey on Fosacessia. Those monks knew what they were doing when they choose that spot to build their abbey. There is also a beautiful and touching Canadian war cemetery (Moro River Cdn War Cemetery) just outside of Ortona.

I hope my marquetry work lives up to your standards.


-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View DocSavage45's profile


8872 posts in 3381 days

#5 posted 08-16-2014 03:01 AM

Peter, I’m only speaking for myself, but everything I’ve seen from you speaks volumes about craftsmanship and artistry!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3432 posts in 4251 days

#6 posted 08-16-2014 04:44 AM


You absolutely must keep a printed copy of this blog series with the chair. What provenance! Your ancestors will all be fighting over it!!


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4944 days

#7 posted 08-16-2014 01:39 PM

I enjoy reading about the process of your creativity, I’m excited to see the chair.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View stefang's profile


16812 posts in 3873 days

#8 posted 08-16-2014 07:20 PM

A very interesting chair, and what a great story to accompany it. I like the way you thought the design process through. We can all learn from that.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4252 days

#9 posted 08-19-2014 03:57 PM

Great blog!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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