This is one of a pair. I gave the companion to my old friend & inspirational mentor, the brilliant Andy Martin, whose career is underpinned by his ability to find and utilise objets d’oh in all dimensions. Happy Birthday Andy!
I gleefully paid top dollar for them in a Berkeley antique shop after an inspiring visit to Creative Growth, en route to my ’91 sabbatical in Central America. I make the claim that they are the finest you’ll ever see – the Lincoln Continental of sock dryers. Over the years these formers – for pushing inside wet wool socks to prevent them shrinking into a strange and uncomfortable shapes – have been made from timber, plywood, metal and plastic. These are made from an engineering composite called Tufnol [a cotton textile impregnated with phenolic resin – Novotext in USA]. A super tough, waterproof & wear resistant insulator, it is commonly used by industry and military in mechanical situations, gearboxes etc, as it has very low friction and does not require lubrication. It’s also the substrate for almost all of the world’s printed/electrical circuit boards.
William Henry Rowley, my maternal grandfather, served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during WW2, and in the aftermath was stationed in Lubeck, Germany. He returned on leave with dolls furniture he’d made for my Mum, aged 6. When I was a kid, Action Man and I played with this dark, heavy, old fashioned furniture, and my daughters now enjoy the table, chairs and sideboard. Recently I was looking more closely at them and discovered they were made not from some exotic hardwood reclaimed from the ruins of Lubeck as I’d always supposed….but offcuts of Tufnol. Grandad’s 1946 recycled flatpack furniture was my selection for Source Material, Salone del Mobile, Milan, Aprile 2014.
QT 005 Sock drying form. Tufnol phenolic composite, aluminium rivets. Manufactured in USA c1960?