Artist/Designer: Wendell Castle
b. 1932, Emporia, Kansas
Title: Molar Chair (Child's Chair) 1970
Medium: Fiberglass, and rubber.
Dimensions: 17"h x 17" x 18.75", seat height 9.5"
Manufacturer: Wendell Castle Studio
Details: Very good condition, some surface scratches consistent with use. Often referred to as the Baby Molar Chair, this is an early, pre-production, signed version, made in his own studio in fiberglass. Although pulled from a single mold, each one was essentially unique, and produced in very small quantities. The rubber added at the bottom was to keep the sharp edge of the fiberglass from scratching the floor. Here, Castle used rubber trim molding typically found in the trunk of a 1960's automobile. Hand signed inside bottom of chair WC '70. Only one available.
Notes from the Archive: Castle's work up to the late 60's was in wood, and mostly carved and shaped from stack laminations of cherry and walnut. When asked why change from working in wood to plastic, especially when his stack lamination work was receiving press attention and being exhibited in museums, he responded by describing how viewers exclaimed excitedly over "the beautiful wood" but Castle was interested in having them "see" the form and the design. He had experimented in adding color to his works in wood, but paint wasn't a satisfactory solution, as the wood underneath tended to expand and crack taking away from the overall form. He tried using the wood piece as a mold for fiberglass, but that was like making the piece twice, so he realized he needed to develop a mold. The early experiments were produced in his studio (as in this version), although due to the toxic nature of the plastics, he went into limited production with Northern Plastics in Syracuse, NY. The production versions were sold through George Beylerian and Charles Stendig, NYC dealers, who sold to the trade. The 1971 production version of the Molar Collection included an armchair (including a partially upholstered version), dining chair, dining table, settee, two coffee tables, a wall shelf, a lamp, and the Baby Molar chair. Baby Molar version is included in SFMOMA collection, and pieces from the Molar Collection are included in the MoMA Collection and other international museums.
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