Continuing the freshly-minted tradition of virtual sharing in these times of plague, the Kingdom Office of Arts & Sciences once again reached out to our fabulous Arts & Sciences Championship artisans to share their work with the populace at large on a more personal level. The virtual Kingdom Championship was also a juried competition, and included a week’s worth of face to face judging – with judges especially selected for their knowledge and background – as well as an online populace “meet and greet the artisans.” Master Hrólfr and I, your Kingdom Arts & Sciences officers, enjoy finding new ways to inspire and motivate our artisans in these trying times and we are happy to see the Championship ran so smoothly!

Today’s interview is with Laird Coinneach Mac an Leigh, who entered the Kingdom of Æthelmearc Arts and Sciences Championship with the Mary Rose Purser’s Chest. Not only was Laird Coinneach the very first artisan to enter the Kingdom Championship, his skillful artistry also secured him the honored place as the King’s Champion!

Mary Rose Purser’s Chest
Laird Coinneach Mac an Leigh entry the Mary Rose Purser’s Chest

Could you tell me a little about you, your persona?

Coinneach is a journeyman cabinetmaker and woodworker. This project is something he built for the purser of the Mary Rose.

What inspired you to make your entry?

Ever since I thumbed through Before the Mast, I’ve wanted to re-create some of those wonderful pieces. The Purser’s Chest is fairly simple in construction, so it seemed like a good project to start.

Did the entry throw up any unexpected issues?

I have been planning this project, off and on, for a decade or more. With all that planning, the actual construction went smoothly. The most difficult part was ascertaining the position of the trunnion sockets in the front and back panels; they had to be precisely opposite each other for the till lid to operate. Using a template helped make this happen.

Did you learn something specific, something you would do differently, or would recommend others to do again?

In retrospect, I would have liked to have done some more research on period paints. The original was almost certainly painted for protection against the salt air, and while modern paint looks okay, a period reproduction should have a period finish.

What did you think of the virtual face to face judging concept?

I enjoyed the face-to-face judging! I found I was able to respond quickly and accurately, and I have to admit I enjoyed talking about my project.

What motivated you to enter the Kingdom Championship?

I can’t deny the interest in exposure, but one of the main reasons for entering was to show that period joinery is within the capabilities of the weekend woodworker. Particularly in English woodwork, the joints are relatively simple; you cut away part of one board to make a place for the second one. That’s the essence of the joinery in the Purser’s Chest: part of the thickness of the front and back panels is cut away for fitting the end boards. Part of the end boards is cut away to fit the bottom. That’s all there is to it! If I can do it, so can anyone else.

Anything else you would like to share?

I want to thank His Majesty, the judges, and the Ministers of Arts & Sciences. I look forward to serving the Arts & Sciences community over the next year, and I hope to see many, many more beautiful examples of Æthelmearc’s extraordinary artisans’ crafts

Are you interested in reading more about the entry after this appetizing interview? You can! All entries including documentation and images are available at the Kingdom Office of Arts and Sciences website.