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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings everyone , happy new year to all, old friends here, new people I haven't"met" yet, my Very Best Wishes.
In your browser, try to find a painting called "the Roman Potter" by Lawrence Alma Tadema. Have a look at the knock-down wooden tray this fellow is holding. I think it would be a gem in my home, ancient design,eternal style, just maths for aesthetics, dark wood (oak? walnut? mahogany?) smoothing of all edges,it would catch attention immediately.
Thus,the question is,does anyone have an idea of what dimensions each detail should be in order to give it grace?
All ideas and suggestions welcome.
Dimitri
 
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You mean something like this? I think typical tray dimensions are 18 x 12 (45 x 30 cm) Handles should be about 1.5"/4 cm to make for good hand feel. The other dimensions should be easy to come up with. I like the knock-down nature of the design. Would make a fun gift.
 

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I would think it should be big enough to carry a 12" plate...so I would go with 13" inside dimension with 3/4" sides which would give you about 15 1/2" wide depending on angle you cut the sides.

For the length I would go no more than 20" outside dimension. This would give you about 8" alongside the plate for drink, flower, coffee, silverware, napkin, etc...

I think the broad shouldered handles would call for a good-sized tray...
 

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Hello Doctor Dimitri. I hope you are well. I recall a while back that you were the one that was going to be operated on. I hope that went well and I'm curious if you've finally been able to retire.

In the painting if the man holding the tray were to stretch his fingers out to the edge of the tray and then drop his elbow to level with it I think it's other edge would land just inside his elbow so if you measured yourself for that length that you should be close. As for the length you've used phi successfully before to calculate a dimension like that and it has worked well in the past so 1.618 (approximately) times the width?
 

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The guy's arm can be used to determine the scale. I measured from my elbow to the wrist joint and got a little more than 11". Then, I took the photo and cropped out the tray and the guy's arm, brought it into sketchup and then resized the photo so from the the elbow to the wrist was a little more than 11". Now the view of the tray is pretty much on end so there isn't much distortion. I then added some dimensions. Anyway, here are the dimensions I got. Surprisingly wide and the wood is fairly thick.

One thing to consider, Alma-Tadema painted this in 1884 so this is a Victorian era interpretation. There's no guarantee of authenticity and artists often take liberties with scale. Look at Michelangelo's David for example. The head and hands are huge compared to the rest of the body.
 

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I think that's probably a very good interpretation Phil. 17" across would make 27 " long using phi as a proportion. That would be slightly wider than his hips which looks about right. So anything between 15 -17" wide and 24-27" long would be in the right range. I think if the tray were narrower and shorter he might have been more inclined to carry it in front of him instead of beside him.
 

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I would think it should be big enough to carry a 12" plate...so I would go with 13" inside dimension with 3/4" sides which would give you about 15 1/2" wide depending on angle you cut the sides.

For the length I would go no more than 20" outside dimension. This would give you about 8" alongside the plate for drink, flower, coffee, silverware, napkin, etc...

I think the broad shouldered handles would call for a good-sized tray...
control slop...
measure your plates..
let the side's slope comp for clearances ...
there's the better feel for the ID front to back at the bottom of the tray......

use ½ or 3/8'' material...
bolster (thicken) the hand holds for comfort...
add folding lap legs...
add another/more beverage(s).. coffee/water/juice/carafes...
muffin side plate..
condiment pot(s)...

the tray gets an absorbent place mat...
keep the sides low for dinning comfort...
hang or pocket the napkin(s) and bib externally..
mount the flower in a tube - externally...



.
 

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I think that's probably a very good interpretation Phil. 17" across would make 27 " long using phi as a proportion. That would be slightly wider than his hips which looks about right. So anything between 15 -17" wide and 24-27" long would be in the right range. I think if the tray were narrower and shorter he might have been more inclined to carry it in front of him instead of beside him.
The actual tray width is probably about 2" less because the interlocking sides protrude around an inch on each side. Overall, that is a very large tray. The ones I've made are usually more like 18"x12" and that works pretty well.
 

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Good to see you Dimitri, and thanks for all the "saves" you do for my boards on Pinrest.
Thanks for all you guys posting on how to dimension things off of pictures. I have noticed in the past quite a few inquiries for dimensioned plans for items seen in pictures. This is how I too take a picture and figure out the size of an item to build. Usually determining just one dimension will give the rest,to the right proportion.
Herb
 

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...
add folding lap legs...
...
Funny you should mention that. Here are some photos of ones I've done and a bit more here. Not sure how well that will work for a knock-down tray.

The inside tray size is 12x18.
 

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Funny you should mention that. Here are some photos of ones I've done and a bit more here. Not sure how well that will work for a knock-down tray.

The inside tray size is 12x18.
that is so MISS/KISS sweet!!!!
 

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good point Herb...
 

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Well this certainly has been added to me project list, thanks guys....Interesting on how to figure out dimensions on pictured objects. Hand size eh? I guess some American politicians trays would be "smaller" than normal eh? Just a poke don't get all riled up now.......no politics here remember.

Decided not to buy the painting at almost $9K although it is very detailed and almost photo like. I hadn't seen this before.
 

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Well this certainly has been added to me project list, thanks guys....Interesting on how to figure out dimensions on pictured objects. Hand size eh? I guess some American politicians trays would be "smaller" than normal eh? Just a poke don't get all riled up now.......no politics here remember.

Decided not to buy the painting at almost $9K although it is very detailed and almost photo like. I hadn't seen this before.
You are right,Steve, i didn't check the price,but I looked at about 30+ pictures of paintings by clicking the arrow and they are all very nice. This is what I call fine art,totally above some of the stuff they call "Art" today.
Just saying,
Herb
 

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I'd never heard of Tadem before. Almost photorealistic renderings of what I presume are images from daily life. Here from Britanica is a brief bio of the artist:

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
British painter
Written By:

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Last Updated: Jan 4, 2020 See Article History

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, (born January 8, 1836, Dronrijp, Netherlands—died June 25, 1912, Wiesbaden, Germany), Dutch-born painter of scenes from everyday life in the ancient world whose work was immensely popular in its time.

Alma-Tadema, the son of a Dutch notary, studied art at the Antwerp Academy (1852–58) under the Belgian historical painter Hendrik Leys, assisting the painter in 1859 with frescoes for the Stadhuis (town hall) in Antwerp. During a visit to Italy in 1863, Alma-Tadema became interested in Greek and Roman antiquity and Egyptian archaeology, and afterward he depicted imagery almost exclusively from those sources. Moving to England, he became a naturalized British subject in 1873 and was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1879. He was knighted in 1899.

Alma-Tadema excelled at the accurate re-creation of ancient architecture and costumes and the precise depiction of textures of marble, bronze, and silk. His expert rendering of settings provides a backdrop for anecdotal scenes set in the ancient world. Alma-Tadema’s wife, Laura Epps, was also a painter. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lawrence-Alma-Tadema
 

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I am not sure why a person might want a knock down tray. It would be a lot of pieces to keep track of in between uses. But it does make for a unique design, my guess it would never be knocked down in actual use.
Herb
Yes, I am pretty sure that's the case - never knocked down. To me, the exercise is about a look rather than utility. You can make a very nice tray with a lot less work. But still, I think a tray like this is striking and worth pursuing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, well, I am really astonished by what all of you have written here, in so many ways that it is a long answer for them all.

First of all, many thanks to old friends who asked about my well being. Well, after several health problems I still worked fully operative in the Greek NHS, retired in Dec 2018, opened a private practice in Feb 2019, and still work and operate. In Greece we say "a bad dog does not die easily".

Second, I am amazed at the extent of drafting and calculations Phil made in his two contributions: My request is for a tray that is good to carry cutlery and crockery - in the Greek countryside most meals during the summer (incl May and September) are best outside, (al fresco, as the Italians call it), and trays for carrying are never enough. So, whether it will take major dishes is theoretical question. How big is a big plate? (nowadays plates are all shapes and sizes, and famous restaurants specialise in serving a huge plate with a tiny cabbage leaf in the middle and a quail egg on it, so good appetite). It is the proportions that interest me more - how can this technique of jointless tray can show light and ethereal and not too bulky without compromising the strength? what wood ca nI find to have enough strength beauty and not cost the earth?). The mention of thickening the handles is very wise, it will add "body" to the item and interest to the technique.

Then, there is one thing I can tell you certainly about potters in the ancient times ("pythoi" - in singular "pythos" - flourished in Minoan Crete, and are still made in the same way, look it up, it is interesting). Because pots were difficult to carry in ancient times, the potters would move from area to area and make the pots there - so there is absolute need for a knock-down tray as the potter was practically a nomad.

Finally, it is the challenge this presents - I agree with Steve, the very minute I saw it I thought "I want to make one" and I brought the subject here to see what opinions I could gather and it has proved a very interesting discussion.

Thank you PhilBa for all your work on this (what a nice work in your site), Chuck you are a good friend, Stick your advice and expertise always wanted (Encyclopedia Woodworkica!), Nick, Herb (should I go for free edge for this tray like you did in the flower pot you made some time ago?), Steve, and Tom.

My very best wishes to you all - I have other priorities now, but this discussion helped me a lot and the pics of Phil's trays show a very pleasant harmony between external and internal curves at the handles, and I may spend more time designing it than it takes for my usual stuff.

A Happy New Year to all.
 

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Well, well, I am really astonished by what all of you have written here, in so many ways that it is a long answer for them all.
...
how can this technique of jointless tray can show light and ethereal and not too bulky without compromising the strength? what wood ca nI find to have enough strength beauty and not cost the earth?).
...
Thanks for the kind words and thanks for starting this discussion. It's the sort of thing that keeps me heading into the shop.

I, too, am concerned about strength. Especially of the wide board that forms the base. Certainly plywood is strong enough but I simply can't see using it for something like this. Maybe make it significantly thicker - 18mm/3/4" but that might look too heavy (and perhaps be too heavy). I'm toying with 8mm/3/8" with 3 cleats running cross grain to add strength. Here's what I have so far.
 

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I hope the fact that you are now in private practice means that you get to work the way that you want to and not have to work the way that someone else wants you to. I love your saying that bad dogs don't die easily. It's the perfect explanation for why I still walk this earth. When you build the tray make sure to come back and post pictures. Everything you've posted before was a lesson in how to get the proportions correct.
 
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