The box with drawer that I posted the other day is a great survivor – the only New England one of its kind. I have seen a corrupted English one – so I dug out the photos of it while we’re on the subject.  I have had it on the blog before, but ages ago.

Here we have an English box with drawer, c. 1600-1610, in walnut mostly. This one got wrecked way back when, then incorrectly restored. The lid is new, and the piece has been turned into a very deep box, the drawer being re-fitted & fixed in place.

box w drawer, walnut & inlay

box w drawer, walnut & inlay

There’s I think 3 surviving relatives, one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in their European Decorative Arts collection. One in a private collection in the US, and one that was featured in Percy MacQuoid’s Age of Oak book…

The others have dated iron escutcheons where the blank square panel is here between the inlaid panels. Dates (from memory) are 1603 and 1610? Something like that. I don’t have MacQuoid’s book.

Here’s the only image I have of the Met box

MMA box w drawer

A couple of exterior detail shots:

 

walnut box w drawer inlay detail

arcading

arcading

There are remnants of block-printed paper lining the inside of the box. Also scribed compass work from an abandoned layout scheme for carving? In the first photo below you can see the wooden pin for locking the drawer from inside the box.

printed paper lining

paper lining & wooden pin for locking drawer

 

compass-formed spiral

compass-formed spiral

Now to someday see the other examples, so we can suss out what really went on with these things.

The other box with a drawer, without its drawer. How’s that for confusing?

Here’s two shots I got years ago from Trent of the “other” Thomas Dennis box w drawer. But it’s been chopped down & its drawer is missing. This one’s in Historic New England’s collection, published in one of the books I mentioned last night - Brock Jobe and Myrna Kaye, New England Furniture: the Colonial Era (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1984)

box HNE

 

HNE box overall B

 

 

What’s even better is that there is documentary evidence that Thomas Dennis made this furniture form – there’s a deposition in the Essex County Court Records, cited in the Irving Lyon articles also mentioned last time:

“March 28, 1682 Thomas Dennis deposed that Grace Stout bought a carved box with a drawer in it of him in 1679 and it had two locks, ” for which he was paid 2/6.

(2 shillings, 6 pence – more than a day’s wages…but not 2 days’ wages. Then there’s the price of the locks to consider…) 

Here’s a detail from the Bowdoin one just so we can have them both in mind. For me, the exciting stuff about Dennis’ best carvings is the great variety. Never repeats, even thought the “vocabulary” is clearly evident.

Dennis - 193

A while back I was up in Maine to take part in a program at Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Huh? I hear you ask – why is Follansbee at Bowdoin? Because their collection is mecca to the study of Thomas Dennis’ carved oak furniture.

They have not one, not two, not three – but four pieces of oak furniture THAT DESCENDED FROM THOMAS DENNIS’ FAMILY.

This time, my focus was on the box with drawer in the collection. I had seen it published many times – but the text was always about the family history of the box, never about its construction. I had never seen good enough views of it opened to understand the format.

Here’s Bowdoin’s excellent photo of the box: 

 

box with drawer, Ipswich, Massachusetts, made between 1663-1706

box with drawer, Ipswich, Massachusetts, made between 1663-1706

Bowdoin’s credit line runs thus:

William Searle (School of Thomas Dennis); Carved Box with Drawer, 1665-1700

oak; 14 3/16 in. x 25 9/16 in. (36 cm. x 65 cm.)

Bowdoin College Museum of Art, bequest of H. Ray Dennis; 1989.42 

(the box is currently on view in their galleries in the exhibition “The Object Show: Discoveries in Bowdoin Collections,” through June 1, 2014.)

 

First thing I wanted to see is the drawer construction. The drawer sides are fitted to the inside of the drawer front with a sliding dovetail. The drawer front then overhangs the carcass of the box. There are no drawer pulls set into the drawer front, but two “glyphs” glued onto the end grain of the drawer front that act as pulls. Why these are still intact is beyond me.

The drawer bottom is made up of two riven oak boards running side-to-side.

box w drawer

Here is the detail that shows the sliding dovetail, the overhang and the glyph on the end grain. 

drawer DT detail

As you see in the overall photo, the box sits on turned feet. These are tenoned into oak slats that run front-to-back and are nailed to the box’s bottom.  I made a couple of rough sketches/notes = the piece is on display in the gallery; and time was short. I had a mini-lecture to give & cheese & crackers to eat! I hope to get back there to see the box in detail some time this year.

 

bowdoin notes

One great surprise is that the box lid is made not of oak but of the wood we Americans call sycamore. This one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platanus_occidentalis

I had this photo from Rob Tarule & Ted Curtin years ago, but never really looked at the lid’s species – until I saw it in the flesh. Sycamore’s radial flecking is more pronounced than oak’s…it’s really amazing. Click the photo & see for yourself. 

Dennis - 196

The box mixes riven oak with flatsawn oak (on the sides in the view above) and the millsawn sycamore as well. The box sides are glued-up of two boards, with an applied molding covering the seam. There’s an abandoned carving pattern scribed & partially cut on the inside face of the box front. I love that stuff. I can still mess them up myself, so I’m glad to see it’s not just me. 

In the meantime, once I get set up & working oak again, the first box I make is going to have a drawer and turned tootsies.

Thanks to all the staff at Bowdoin who were so accommodating to me during my too-brief visit. Here’s a link to a blog post they did about the evening’s program – sorry I’m so late in getting this up here. If you’re in the area, the museum is well worth a visit. http://research.bowdoin.edu/a-world-of-objects/remembering-almost-forgotten-crafts/

The William Searle/Thomas Dennis story is terribly long. Here’s a partial bibliography that discusses their works:

Jonathan L. Fairbanks and Robert F. Trent, eds., New England Begins: The Seventeenth-Century 3 vols. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1982)

Brock Jobe and Myrna Kaye, New England Furniture: the Colonial Era (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1984)

Irving P. Lyon, series of six articles, “The Oak Furniture of Ipswich, Massachusetts” that originally appeared in Antiques in 1937-38. These are all collected in Robert F. Trent, ed., Pilgrim Century Furniture: An Historical Survey (New York: Main Street/Universe Books, 1976) pp. 55-78.

Robert Tarule, The Artisan of Ipswich: Craftsmanship and Community in Colonial New England (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004)

Discovering Dennis: The Search for Thomas Dennis among the Artisans of Exeter, Paul Fitzsimmons, Robert Tarule, and Donald P. White III; review by Peter Follansbee in American Furniture, ed. Luke Beckerdite, (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2010) 

I am starting to assemble the schedule for where and when I will be teaching in 2014. This list is partial; as of right now (Dec 2013) – I will update it as things get sorted out. Some of these places have their schedules posted, some are still in the works. I’ll also keep it as a separate page here on the blog for later access. Hope to see you out & about…

PF carving strapworkFebruary 8 & 9, 2014 – Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, Manchester, CT. Carving 17th-century style. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes  Bob Van Dyke runs a great place there. Fun will be had. Watch in horror as Bob loses it when we look at period carvings, “All I see is faces” says Bob. 2 days of learning the tools to use, how to work with them this way & that, and generate different patterns. Layout, execution – folks usually carve about 5 different patterns, including one full-size panel version.

spoon carving

May 11 & 12, 2 days of spoon carving instruction at Lie-Nielsen in Warren, ME. My first-ever attempt at teaching spoon carving. I am really excited to tackle this. If you read the blog, you know I have been carving spoons for many years, and every day for the past few. Axes, knives & more – what fun. They will have the details up on their website soon. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshops/

mini chest

August 4-8, 2014 – The Woodwright’s School, Pittsboro, NC. – This time, Roy has been kind enough (or nuts enough) to agree to us trying to make a small joined chest in a week. A mix of riven oak and sawn boards (maybe pine – we have some details to work out…) – it will be much like the joined chest we did on his show this past season. (flat lid instead of panels though – enough joinery already) Riving, hewing, planing – mortise & tenon, then grooves & panels. If it works, it’ll be something. Well, it’ll be something anyway…

carved box 2011

September 22-26 – Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts - http://www.heartwoodschool.com/coursefr.html  WOW – I’ll teach right here in Massachusetts. I was a student at Heartwood back in 1984 – and now 30 years later I’ll be teaching the make-a-carved-box class there. Riving oak, planing, carving, assembly – another mix of riven oak & sawn pine. Assembly with hand-wrought nails, wooden pins, and a wooden hinge. I’m really looking forward to returning to Heartwood.

(Will Beemer was able to find a photo that had me in it from 1984 – I’m the skinny longhair sorta just behind/above the fellow in white overalls…head down, arms up.)

PF at Heartwood

There are other things coming up, some museum lecture/demos; one at Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in NC – in March. Haven’t been there in ages. I’ll also add another class at CVSWW – this one a 3-day class in making a carved frame-and-panel. So some carving, and some joinery for those too smart to tackle 16 or more mortise & tenons! I’ll get that sorted soon, sorry Bob. The 2-day open house at Lie-Nielsen in July – I missed it in 2013, so cleared room in 2014.

I’ll flesh this listing out as it gets more details.

 

nov spoon 020 overall

I posted a new batch of spoons today. Might be the last one for the season. I have more spoons underway; but I am not sure how much time I’ll have coming up. For those new to this; if there’s a spoon you’d like to order, leave a comment…then I can send a paypal invoice or you can send a check. Either way is fine w me.

shallow dof

I have also added the next frame & panel, this one in walnut. (I used this artsy-picture before, but no one noticed it’s not oak!) Again, maybe the last of the season. Two boxes and a joined stool round out the offerings. As always, I really appreciate everyone’s response to this sort of thing. It helps keep things going, and gives me a great boost to have so much support.

Here’s the link, and it’s at the top banner of the blog. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-late-november-2013/

the good thing about starting too many projects at once is that when you finally get around to dealing with them, it looks like you build stuff in record time, knocking off projects on a two-a-week basis.

Here’s what’s coming down the pike:

This chest – it falls in the House of the Rising Sun category – I started it in April or May, left it alone until July or August, then picked it back up in Oct. Only to leave it til now. So it’s all over the map. But it will work out. I have to panel the other end, then fit the till. That’s tomorrow.

chest

I have a bunch of book stands underway. And this is the last joint stool to come out of this shop in its present configuration.

stand & stool

Here’s one that will fall by the wayside – it’s aiming to be a box; but it will have to wait. there’s priorities you know.

box on hold

This one should be do-able. Just some funny paint left to finish up.

box wants paint

Those are all I could get near with a camera today. there’s more in there, I think. Two more chests, the chest of drawers will wait – it’s a long-term project. And lots of stuff rattling around in my head.

I stink at keeping the blog’s extraneous stuff up-to-date. I fiddled with it a little bit tonight. I updated the “Carved boxes, etc” page – it now includes the carved bookstand I wrote about in the recent Popular Woodworking (Oct 2013) as well as the remaining boxes I have for sale. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carved-boxes-fall-2012/ For some reason (I care not) the URL still says 2012, but the content is up-dated.)

carved bookstand

carved bookstand

- —–

The Wille film.

Wille

On the sidebar of the front page, I dropped the link to the kickstarter site for the Wille Sundqvist film.  The project reached its goal in spades,  - but I will keep everyone updated when I hear more about it. This is a project I am so excited about, I can’t stand it. For the record, here’s the link http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/761142325/the-spoon-the-bowl-and-the-knife-craftsman-wille-s

I had a note a while back from Erik Buchakian (Country Workshops board member) about the tracking of where the donors came from:

“I thought you might like to know – Kickstarter does that creepy Internet thing, where it keeps track of where people “clicked” from in order to get to the site.  By far the most donors to the Wille film got to the Kickstarter site from your blog – something like 30%.  Good work!!!!”

To which I say to you blog readers – Thanks ever so much. Nice going.

——————

my spoons -

basket of spoons

basket of spoons

I haven’t had spoons to sell for a while. You’ve noticed I guess. Many have asked. As you might have read, I spent much of July & August on the road teaching classes. I started in again on spoons last week & hope to have some in a few weeks’ time. But then I have to go to Woodworking in America where I need to have spoons for show & tell. So it might be late October when they are next for sale here. I’ll be posting some stuff about making them in the next few weeks, then will give a heads-up when I fill that basket again.

——————

There’s lots of new readers subscribing, thanks & welcome aboard. If there’s something in particular about oak furniture of the 17th century you’re looking for, a reminder that there’s a search button on the sidebar. The posts go back to Jul of 2008, so lots of stuff to cover.

- —–

Birds – Ahhh. this one’s tough.

heron closeup

I have had zero time for birds. None. Kills me – ALMOST. My  free time usually spent birding has been spent pitching, so it’s worth it. Migration will come again, but Daniel will be a 7-yr old baseball fan only once.  I have no pictures, but Rose rides her bike now too – so I don’t know which way to turn.

 

daniiel at bat

 

Enough housekeeping. Woodworking tomorrow.

PF

Well, last week you saw what one student did with my carving lessons, (http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/this-makes-teaching-more-fun/ ) and now I have taught two more classes of carving in the past 2 months; I thought it might be helpful to show some period work here. All oak of course.

There’s a lot of new readers showing up, so I might do some review of stuff that’s gone before. I started by looking at photos that are already loaded into the blog’s till…it’s always nice to review, you might see something you missed before.

This one’s England, marked out with compasses to outline the framing; the panel is most likely freehand around a vertical centerline.

 

 

cupboard door, oak

cupboard door, oak

Some basic geometry behind this design, also England, probably the Lakes District, dated 1691.

carved panel nail holes lakes 2

 

Another carving from the same piece of furniture.

torn-up moldings on cupboard door panel, 1691

Some of my favorite English stuff, this is a pew carving from Totnes, Devon. Early 17th-c.

 

carved panel, Totnes pews

 

An old favorite from Braintree, Massachusetts – a panel from a cupboard. About 9″ x 12″.

door panel, attributed to William Savell, Sr.

door panel, attributed to William Savell, Sr.

This one a chest panel from the son of above; this time John Savell, c. 1660-1689.

 

panel, joined chest, c. 1660-1680s

panel, joined chest, c. 1660-1680s

Now, some of my own favorites – might help the new carvers with ideas.

crossed S-scroll pattern

crossed S-scroll pattern

box front, red oak

box front, red oak

carving detail

carving detail

PF carving strapwork

reproduction 17th-century furniture

carving “sunflower” chest panel

box b detail carving

 

The DVDs on carving are available from Lie-Nielsen…for more info on them and the joint stool book, see this page:

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/book-dvds/

 

 

 

 

 

I had a great group of carvers & box-makers last month down at Drew & Louise’s place. There was so much to cover, I shot some photos, but didn’t really do it justice. Someone should just shoot the table settings/meals. I shot some of the opening night’s pizza, but after a while, it was time to eat, not photograph stuff.

A sample of photos follows. We had Axe night, when neighbor John Krausse came w his friend Josh (I hope I remembered that right) we tried about 20 different hatchets…Drew showed us his modern bowl forms one evening. And in the daylight these folks made great boxes.

what a time!

 

 

 

Here’s the link to Country Workshops – if you haven’t been, get down there next year.  http://countryworkshops.org/

see Drew’s bowls and read about them here http://drewlangsner.com/

Louise’s blog is here http://louiselangsner.wordpress.com/

 

I have a lot of catching up to do with the blog. I got back from a fabulous week at Country Workshops on Sunday…and have written several posts in my head. Which does you no good now.

 

today’s very quick post is to tell you that we have some spaces still in the 2-day carving class, Saturday & Sunday, September 14 & 15 at Bob Van Dyke’s place, the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking.

http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes

 

here’s some shots from last time -

leslie diggin the posture

I thought I had a lot of carving tools

dedham panel

The middle part of the box class at Country Workshops is the 2-day section on carving – those students aced it.  Here’s a few of theirs:

aug braid student

rebecca's scrolls detail

 

 

 

chris' lunettes

 

 

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