Mouldings and lippingsedgings

The decline in the popularity of moulded sections dates from the introduction of plywoods and machine techniques, and is a good example of new materials and their manipulation influencing design. Mouldings are, however, both decorative and utilitarian, for subtle curved surfaces catch and reflect the light giving warmth and feeling, while softened angles are less easily damaged and more comfortable to handle. Current architectural styles worship severe functional restraint, but while rich mouldings may be temporarily out of fashion, they usually survive periodic neglect.

Traditional mouldings are developed from Greek examples based on ellipses and Roman examples on circles, but the classic geometric shapes are better suited to bold architectural features, and small-scale furniture mouldings are happier if drawn freehand, with due regard for the type of wood of which they are composed. For instance, fine-grained woods, mahogany, walnut, etc. call for delicate treatment, while coarse Gothic details would look ridiculous in any but strong, open-grained woods such as oak, chestnut and the like. In designing such elements, therefore, certain rules should be observed: (a) the sections must be in scale, i.e. in proprotion to the type, size and overall appearance of the carcass; (b) mouldings above eye level should protrude (307:20A), and below eye level recede, otherwise the effect will be lost, while undercut mouldings (307:21) should be boldly profiled; (c) composite mouldings (307:22) should be built up of alternate convex and concave profiles. These arbitrary rules can of course be broken, but only with discretion; and an example of bad profiling is the coarse reeded legs of some Victorian furniture in which the bold convex profiles of the reeds are placed side by side with no relieving flat between.

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