Geometric Ornamentation by guest bloggers Truc Truong and Abigail Sales

Ever since the 16th century, carving wood has been a way for many people to express their artistic creativity. One of the ways that historic homes expressed their true and unique character was through the wood technique called fretwork. Fretwork is a decorative design done with a piece of equipment called a fretsaw. A fretsaw is useful for making small and intricate details in fine wood. The details can be seen in clocks and furniture and musical instruments as the designs are generally cut to render small intertwined patterns.


In the 19th century, fretwork gained huge popularity within the American middle class as people sought a new way to spend their leisure time. Even veterans from the Civil War were jumping on this bandwagon hobby; a prime example would be J. T. Genn of Wamego who donated dozens of his utilitarian household creations, featuring beautiful fretwork, to museums across Kansas.


A great deal of fretwork ornamentations are geometric in style. To create the work, one needs either wood or metal. Many people look at this complicated fretwork and believe that they would never be able to accomplish something this artistic. But in just a few simple steps, one can have the basics of fretwork completed, and soon they are able to work themselves up to higher wood carving skills.



If you are interested in trying your hand at creating fretwork, begin the process by selecting a beginner pattern. Then, select the type of wood that would go well with the pattern you have chosen. Pine wood is recommended! The drilling can be accomplished with either a cordless or electric drill. After drilling all of the holes in your pattern, it is finally time to start cutting it out. You can use a saw that uses pin-end blades or a saw specifically made for finicky designs. Regardless of the type of saw you have or how you change the blades, one will get the same overall result. Just cut the area out, release the blade, and then repeat the process! With a little time and patience, the project will soon be one of your greatest achievements.




When visiting the Heard Craig Center for the Arts Museum in downtown McKinney, you will immediately notice that the fretwork in this historic building is something unique and specifically designed for the prominent Heard family. Mr. French, from Sherman Texas, created this beautiful artwork himself, adding more essence to the already exquisite home. To find out more about fretwork and see it in person, you're invited to join a Tea and Tour held every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 1:00pm. Reservations are not required but are encouraged if you are bringing a group over four.


Sources:

https://scrollsawer.com/2011/12/24/fretwork-basics/

https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/fretwork-clock/10305

https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Fret

https://thesourceforantiques.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/the-abcs-of-decorative-arts-fretwork/