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Exploring the Old Sturbridge Village Collections

I can't even tell you how incredible Wednesday and Thursday was for Mike and I. We were invited down to Old Sturbridge Village by assistant curator Shelley Cathcart to spend the day exploring the collections of many thousands of tools and furniture in storage. We, of course, leapt at the opportunity. After an early morning departure and five hours on the road, we spent the entire day digging through shelves of artifacts from New England cabinetmakers' shops working between 1790 and 1840. There were many moments crouched under tables with flashlights and times with objects laid out on blankets for closer examination. Besides the standard tools made by established toolmakers, there were so many that were shop made. It is...

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The Reassembled Jonathan Fisher Workshop

  I have been looking forward to this moment for three years now. When I began researching the furniture making of Jonathan Fisher, I had no idea just how much surviving material there was. The house he built is filled with furniture he made with a collection of tools he used to build them all recorded in his surviving diary entries. That’s amazing for any period cabinet or chair maker but especially for a rural one. Back in the 1950s and 60s, when his house was being turned into a museum, many of the objects were sold to a sister institution to ensure reliable preservation. Although the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, ME owns the majority of the furniture and...

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Banister-back Chair: A Yale Commission

When I got back from vacation a while back, I hit the ground running. In the past two months, I’ve written two articles, built a grain-painted chest over drawers, a white oak spring pole lathe, and an 18th-century Rhode Island banister-back chair. It’s been enjoyable concentrating all my effort on making rather than my customary conservation work. I’ve learned a lot through these projects because I am not a production furniture maker. When I build, it’s always a one-off of something that piques my interest. This recent banister-back chair build was no exception to that. When curator Pat Kane from the Yale University Art Gallery contacted me to discuss this commission for the upcoming Rhode Island Furniture exhibition, I leapt...

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Respite

Late last week I finally got a two day break from this magazine craziness. Early Thursday morning my studio assistant Mike and I got on the road to head down to the Yale Furniture Study in New Haven, CT. Even though this was technically a “business” trip it was an immense “pleasure” to be away from my computer screen and M&T mailing responsibilities. This magazine has been a real stretch on my ability to keep it together while being pulled a million different directions by urgent matters. I survived a few months like that but I was beginning to reach a breaking point.This Yale trip was a totally different experience. Road tripping 6.5 hours down the coast with my good...

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