Enough of that holiday stuff, time for some woodworking. First class of the year for me is at Bob Van Dyke’s place in the wilds of Connecticut. Saturday & Sunday, February 8th & 9th, 2014 I’ll be at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking in Manchester, CT to teach a 2-day class in carving 17th-century style patterns in oak. Bob’s school gets an astounding array of teachers and students, the focus on “period” furniture is first-rate.

we’ll have oak, we’ll have carving tools. Students bring their tools too…come see Bob get unsettled when we look at slides. He sees faces in all the patterns, and it’s not a good thing…

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

sign up, come carve a bunch. we’ll have a blast.

carving samples

carving samples

 

reproduction 17th-century furniture

Here’s some photos from one of last year’s classes

 

leslie diggin the posture

 

I thought I had a lot of carving tools

dedham panel

 

 

 

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.

Moving is a good time to sort junk & throw out some stuff. Moving the shop is no exception. I got to the small bookcase & sifted through some magazines…I had long intended to go through the back issues of Antiques & Fine Art and snip out the photos and articles that might be useful, and ditch the rest. I can save 2 feet of shelf space by doing just that. I ran across this advertisement from a 2004 issue of the magazine:

box ad

 

I had never seen this box before it appeared in this ad…and I have never seen it otherwise for that matter. But to me, it resembles the work in the cupboard at the MFA that I worked on some years ago. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=MFA+cupboard

To review that project – the MFA owns a 1680s/90s cupboard base. They asked me to make a top to go with it, but worked to look “as new.” It was a great project, one in which I had lots of help from their conservation people and those at Winterthur Museum as well. Here’s my result, before it was installed at the MFA.

upper case, MFA cupboard, 2010

upper case, MFA cupboard, 2010

To get to that, we studied the related objects. In all, we only knew of 4 pieces from this un-identified shop. Here they are:

First is the MFA cupboard base. The top drawer is carved on a shaped drawer front applique – and the stiles are carved below this drawer. Plus false muntins on the 2nd & 3rd drawers. Highlighted w paint.

MFA cupboard base

MFA cupboard base

a detail:

S-scroll MFA cupboard

S-scroll MFA cupboard

The chest wth drawers at Concord (MA) Museum is a great example of this guy’s work. It’s all kinds of weird in its construction, but the carving and paint are immediately recognized.

 

chest w drawers overall b&w

A detail of the carving:

concord detail

This old photo of the cupboard head at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY shows what was left c. 1900 or so. They had the base too, but this one I cropped when I was studying the cupboard’s upper case.

 

Met cupboard head

 

The box at Winterthur is a fine example, I especially like its small size. It’s dated in paint on the side, I think it’s 1698.

 

Winterthur box, dated 1698

Winterthur box, dated 1698

You might remember one of my interpretations of this box just the other day:

painted box Nov 2013

When I ran across the photo at the top of this page in the shop today, I started to make out in my head how to lay it out…within a few minutes I figured it would be quicker & easier just to lay it out on wood & carve it. so I did.

 

half-carved

half-carved

I tilted the board a bit, to try to show the layout scribed w a compass…it’s a bit hard to pick out. But it’s there.

half-carved & layout

half-carved & layout

What fun! Once I got that out of my system,  I went back to sorting & cleaning.

 

Some stuff I have been finishing up. Got to photographing it on Thursday.

A small carved & painted box. I did one like this before, when I was working on the cupboard for the MFA. This one is not a copy of an existing piece, but based on a couple of examples we studied while researching that project.

painted box Nov 2013

 

Open showing the till inside.

 

 

 

carved & painted box open

 

And a detail showing the wooden hinge – a pin on the extension of the rear board, fitting through a hole bored in the lid’s cleats.

carved & painted box detail till hinge

 

In keeping with the squiggle-painted decor – here’s a joined stool I built during the book project, but just painted this fall.

joined stool painted Nov 2013

 

Then next stool was a customer-request. Carved aprons.

joined stool carved fall 2013

joined oak stool carved fall 2013

 

I’m also finishing up the bookstand orders I got – one more to go. I keep hearing about “oh, you can use an Ipad on them too!” – I don’t want to know about it!

bookstand

 

I left the owl alone today, plus it was raining so I didn’t walk the beach. Went to the post office & sent out the last of the spoons/carved panels. Then was in the shop all day. First full-day in the shop for the off-season. Felt pretty good…but soon I have to pack it up & move it. More on that when I know more…

Meanwhile, I’ll try to address a question that I have never satisfactorily dealt with.. –  “what carving tools do you use?” What brand, size, shape, etc. I have always frustrated people with my answers; often I would just strike the tools into a piece of scrap wood & say, get something like these.

Here is my latest attempt to help folks understand which tools I use for carved furniture. Doesn’t mean you need these exact sizes and shapes. These are just what I use. You can adapt carving patterns to suit your tool kit, as you collect and assemble a “set” of carving tools.

carving tools in trays

These two trays’ worth get me through most every carving I do. Sometimes I add one or two more (I’ll get to those.) Let’s start with these tools, with their profiles struck in a chunk of – surprise – oak. 

carving tools w strikes

carving tools struck detail

from left to right:

Swiss-Made (Pfiel) #7, about 3/4″ width. I use this on EVERY carving I do…no exaggeration. 
Swiss-Made (Pfiel) #5, 1/2″ width. I use this one for background removal, and shaping. Also in every carving, with just a few exceptions. Its end is slightly crowned, probably from sloppy sharpening -but it helps when meeting the incised cuts…

Swiss-Made (Pfiel) V-tool #15/6mm – I know because it’s marked that way. Mine’s old now, about 25-30 years. I think its shape is a bit different than what they make now. Tighter at the junction of the two “wings” – to make a crisp V. 

Swiss-Made (Pfiel) #8, 5/16″ width. A very small, deeply curved gouge. I use it regularly, but not always. For small details. Larger #8s are too rounded for my taste…but the small one suits what I need sometimes.

Antique – W. Butcher – I don’t remember when I got this one, I think it was a Brimfield find. 11/16″ wide, part of a circle that’s about 1″ in diameter. I use it when defining medium-sized curves. It’s used a lot in my S-scrolls…

Not-new, not-antique Henry Taylor – 7/16″ wide, about a 1/2″ circle. Same as above, but for smaller sized details. 

Buck Brothers, 9/16″ wide, c. 5/8″ circle. This one falls between the previous two. I sometimes combine two or more of these to create shapes that go from tighter to larger arcs. 

Two Ashley Iles gouges – #5, 1″ wide, and #6 just over 1″ wide. I got two of them from http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/store/dept/TXQ5-6 – They are great for large sections of arcs. Heavy, stout tools. Maybe they are available slightly scaled down, I forget. These are big tools…but I’d rather big than too small..

In some carvings, there are more details, and I need to break into another tray, but not for much. Here’s the second stringers:

extra carving tools

 

The first “extra” tool I am likely to reach for is a small Stubai gouge – #7, 1/2″ wide. I can’t stand the dinky size, but I just haven’t replaced it. It works fine, but I don’t like the way it feels. 

The middle tool is an antique Henry Taylor –  very small. 1/4″ wide, just a little more curve than the Pfiel #5. 

The tool on the right is just another #5 Swiss-Made (Pfiel) – but wide. 1″ wide. I use it for outlining when I don’t use a V-tool. 

I occasionally use some #2s, for shaping or outlining, but the #5s are best for that. I have a few other 5s…some wider, some bent. But I don’t use them for furniture carving much. 

 

mallet

The mallet, which is on its last legs, is hickory. 3″ in diameter. About 12″ long, more than half of which is the head. Its weight is about 1 lb, 12 oz. I have a new one I turned back in the spring. It is dry now, I just haven’t dug it out of the shavings yet. They last me about 6-10 years, I’d say. 

Art. Craft. Potato, Potahto.

I read Jarrod’s post, http://jarrodstonedahl.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-world-of-craft-without-being-art.html

and then Robin’s.http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/wood-craft-blog/2013/11/21/old-art-craft-debate/

It’s weird stuff. I have no idea where I fall in the discussion. I usually stay out of it. When asked what I am, (that is, what is my job…) I describe myself as a joiner – and here in America most folks don’t know what that means. At the museum where I work, I and others who make things with our hands are called “artisans”. Because of all the carving on my furniture, people often say, “You’re an artist:” – and my response is usually that I consider myself a craftsman.

 

chair carvings

I had a visitor from Germany one day this year. She was looking at some carved panels I had on the bench. In her hesitant English, which was very good although she had little confidence in it, she said “It is very artificial.”

I thanked her greatly, and stressed that she had just used the term right out of the 17th century; and there weren’t many places where she would be understood using that old meaning of the word. I pictured people being upset or hurt that someone thought their stuff artificial.

But its roots are in artifice – someone who makes such things is an artificer. I dug out the OED & got these snippets:

artificer 1. A person who makes things by art or skill; an artisan, a craftsman.

▸a1393   Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) vii. l. 1691   Artificers, Whiche usen craftes and mestiers, Whos Art is cleped Mechanique.

1445   Petition in Rolls of Parl. (2005) Parl. Feb. 1445 §44. m. 6   Þe wages of..a maister tyler or sclatter, rough mason and meen carpenter, and other artificers..by the day .iij. d. with mete and drynk.

a1475   J. Russell Bk. Nurture (Harl. 4011) in Babees Bk. (2002) i. 187   Worshipfulle merchaundes and riche artyficeris.

c1517   King Henry VIII Let. 3 May in Camden Misc. (1992) XXXI. 32   A great number of..malicious jorneymen of theire..rancorous disposition against aliens and strangers, artificers and others..soddenly assembled themselves withein our..citty.

1592   T. Nashe Pierce Penilesse (Brit. Libr. copy) sig. C4v,   A base Artificer, that hath no reuenues to bost on.

1659   Milton Considerations touching Hirelings 147   From the magistrate himself to the meanest artificer.

1671   Milton Paradise Regain’d iv. 59   Carv’d work, the hand of fam’d Artificers In Cedar, Marble, Ivory or Gold.

artifice †1. The action of an artificer; the making of something by art or skill; craftsmanship, workmanship. Also: the work of an artificer; manual or mechanical work. Obs.

1526   Grete Herball sig. Qiii/1,   Hony is made by artyfyce, and craft of bees.

1646   Sir T. Browne Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1686) v. v. 195   Adam immediately issued from the Artifice of God.

1667   Milton Paradise Lost ix. 39   The skill of Artifice or Office mean, Not that which justly gives Heroic name To Person or to Poem.

a1682   Sir T. Browne Certain Misc. Tracts (1683) i. 4   The early artifice in Brass and Iron under Tubal-Cain.

2. Human skill or workmanship as opposed to nature or a natural phenomenon.

1526   Grete Herball sig. sig. Pvv/2,   There be yt are naturall without artyfyce or craft & they be ye best & whan ye fynde perles in receptes it is them ytbe naturall perles.

a1533   Ld. Berners tr. A. de Guevara Golden Bk. M. Aurelius (1537) f. 79,   As ye se a thynge made by artyfice peryshe, and a naturall thynge laste.

1593   J. Eliot Ortho-epia Gallica 153   No artifice of man can tell how to counterfait her note.

1774   G. Marriott Estimate of Human Life 355   Nature..infinitely excelled human Artifice.

 

artificial  

a. Of a thing: made or constructed by human skill, esp. in imitation of, or as a substitute for, something which is made or occurs naturally; man-made.

c1425   Lydgate Troyyes Bk. (Augustus A.iv) iii. l. 5678 (MED),   Bawme natural, Þat ran þoruȝ pipes artificial.

c1475   tr. H. de Mondeville Surgery (Wellcome) f. 157,   Close þe lippis of þe wounde &..binde hem & hele hem wiþ wiyn and stupis & pressuris & plagellis & artificial byndynge.

1547   C. Langton Very Brefe Treat. Phisick ii. vi. sig. Gviv,   Artificiall bathes, be made by mannes witte.

1588   T. Hariot Breife Rep. Virginia sig. E2,   Their houses are..in most townes couered with barkes, and in some with artificiall mattes made of long rushes.

1611   S. Rowlands Four Knaves 22   An artificiall flie of silk.

1663   Marquis of Worcester Cent. Names & Scantlings Inventions xlvi,   How to make an artificial Bird to fly.

—————–
In sixteenth-century England rules concerning the trades’ management were created. These were called  the Statute of Artificers. http://www.ditext.com/morris/1563.html  

I remember Jogge Sundqvist using the term “handycraftsman” – but like the German visitor, this is a case of having  Jogge’s idea being translated into English…

Jogge Sundqvist at Country Workshops, 2010

Jogge Sundqvist at Country Workshops, 2010

But “handycraftsman” is an old term, think of Moxon’s book’s title, Mechanick Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-works. I ran into this phrase when Trent & I studied Boston joiners too.  Here is an excerpt from the Bulletin of the Boston Public Library, vol. 4, #4, Jan. 1894, pp. 305-6:

 Fac-Simile of a Petition of the Handycraftsmen of Boston in 1677, Against the Intrusion of Strangers

On page 426 of his “History and Antiquities of Boston” the late Samuel G. Drake gives an account of the accompanying Petition. The original document, of which a fac-simile is now presented, was once owned by Drake, who thus describes it:

 “May 29, 1677. At the may session of the General Court, the Handycraftsmen, a very considerable part of the Town of Boston,’ to the number of one hundred and twenty-nine, put in a petition, praying for protection in their several callings, `whose outward subsistence,’ they say, `doth depend upon God’s blessing, and many of us not having estates any other way to advantage ourselves; that by the frequent intruding of strangers from all parts, especially of such as are not desirably qualified, find ourselves under great disadvantages, and prejudicial to the Towne; and many times the stranger drawes away much of the custome from his neighbor, which hath been long settled, and in reality is much more the deserving man; whereby it has already come to pass with many, that severall inhabitants that have lived comfortably upon their trades, and been able to bear publick charges in a considerable degree, now cannot subsist, which is very pernicious and prejudiciall to the Towne; and some that never served any time, or not considerably for the learning of a Trade, yet finding wayes to force themselves into the Towne, and then sometimes by hireing or buying a servant, they doe set up a Trade, and thus draw away the custom of the Petitioners belonging to the Town, as above has been set forth. They, therefore, `conceiving that the foresaid disadvantages do arise, either for the want of power to make orders, or due execution of orders, ask that power might be granted to the Selectmen,’ or others, `for a regular and effectual execution of all such orders as are, or may be made, referring to the admission of inhabitants; that Tradesmen shall fulfill a sufficient apprenticeship, and be (proficients?) before they set up Trades, etc.

For “artist” I think of Heather – http://heatherneill.com/

 

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.

image for this event

I’ll be at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston this Wednesday afternoon/eveing, doing a demonstration much like my usual day job. Just a snappier venue…

Here’s the text from the website for the Four Centuries project http://www.fourcenturies.org/ai1ec_event/artist-demonstration/

Be sure to look around at that website = there’s lots going on in Massachusetts if you like furniture…

If you’re in town (maybe early for Game 6 of the World Series around the corner at Fenway) come by the MFA

 

Artist Demonstration


Peter Follansbee will be demonstrating some of the techniques he uses in making reproductions of 17th-century joiner’s work. Usually done in oak split or riven from the log, this furniture most often includes carved decoration. The carvings combine geometric, floral and architectural patterns, often in combination. Mr. Follansbee has studied New England furniture in the MFA collections for almost 20 years, and will show how these designs are laid out and carved with a compass, several carving gouges and a wooden mallet. He will have examples of his reproduction furniture for visitors to examine up close, as well as resource materials to explain the complete process.
Peter Follansbee began his woodworking career in 1978, learning traditional methods to build ladder back chairs. His study of 17th-century joiner’s work has led to numerous articles in the scholarly journal American Furniture, Popular Woodworking Magazine, as well as several instructional videos with Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. In 2011, Lost Art Press published a book, co-authored by Mr. Follansbee, called Make a Joint Stool from a Tree: An Introduction to Seventeenth-Century Joinery. Since 1994, Mr. Follansbee has worked as the joiner at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Presented by Peter Follansbee, Master joiner from the Plimoth Plantation
Made Possible by The Lowell Institute

WHEN

October 30, 2013
5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
WHERE

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Druker Classroom
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
USA

PRICING

Free with Museum admission
CONTACT

617-267-9300

 

Remember the Dutch planes I showed you a while back? http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/some-dutch-planes/

skewed mouth smooth plane

skewed mouth smooth plane

I deliberately omitted their whereabouts, but it turns out I was just being skittish. They are part of the collection at the Yale University Furniture Study.

A week or two ago, I spent a day with Ned Cooke, professor of American Decorative Arts at Yale University. Ned & I met back when I first stalked the halls of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts studying 17th-century furniture. Ned was a curator there along with Jonathan Fairbanks, both of whom gave me quite an education by letting me study the artifacts in detail. So we flash forward a couple of decades, and Ned invited me down to show his first-year students some of my ideas about joinery tools, techniques, decoration, etc.

It was quick – 75 minutes, but many of them got to split some oak, try their hand at planing and we did some assembly of a joined chest front that I brought along.

All of this took place at the Furniture Study. Their collection is excellent; and the study itself is a great place to see first-hand numerous examples of period American furniture; not just “my” period but all those others too…

For the bench fiends, take a look at this one – belonged to the cabinetmaker who worked on the Garvan collection when it was  Mr. Garvan’s.

bench

Here are some detail shots I took there several years back – students who have taken carving classes with me will recognize some of these…first is the basic S-scroll from Guilford/New Haven – the Furniture Study has 2 large cupboards sitting side-by-side for a crash course in furniture of the New Haven Colony…

S scroll

One drawer has a mistake in the layout & cutting of the scrolls across the front. still holds linen…

mistake

a nice example of a cupboard door lock. Hardly ever find these surviving on 17th-century work.

lock

On the top rail of this cupboard door is a compass-marked circle – was it intended to be carved, then that idea ditched?

cupboard door

Here you can see inside the cupboard, showing the front-to-back floorboards in oak.

cupboard inside

 

Nice simple drawer back. Essentially a riven clapboard.

 

drawer back

The front of one of the drawers.

drawer fronts

So if you are going to be down in the wilds of New Haven, CT try to make arrangements to see what they have in the furniture study. Here”s their website, scroll to the bottom of the page for details on their weekly free tours and information about making appointments. Take the tour, then you can see what you’d like to study in detail…

http://artgallery.yale.edu/furniture-study

 

 

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/

 

 

 

 

 

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