For a woodworker, I have a pretty ideal job. My daytime gig is to make furniture in front of the museum’s visitors. All day, that’s what I do. No pressure to finish/sell, etc. Just make the stuff we use in the re-created village c. 1620s. For 25 years, I have concentrated on 17th-century joiner’s work. English/New England. Totally captivated, still engrossed. I must have five or more pieces underway right now.

BUT….for the past few years, I have been distracted into wanting to build other stuff too. Except I can’t. In my shop, it has to fit that 17th-century context.

I have enough tools to go around, so if I had a shop at home I could tackle what I please. But there’s no room in this tiny house for a shop. Oh, that’s another story. The spoons serve to get me my creative fix at home…

 

So I compile ideas on stuff I want to build when the time is right. This new books is real high on the fantasy list. Der Henndorfer Truhenfund

Der Henndorfer Truhenfund

Der Henndorfer Truhenfund

I found out about this book from the Regional Furniture Society. (new website for them here: http://regionalfurnituresociety.org/ )  Bill & Gerry Cotton have made a few trips to Romania to study old furniture there; and they saw over 100 of these chests stored in a church. The RFS made a study trip there, and the reports were in a recent newsletter.

Regional Furniture Society newsletter

Regional Furniture Society newsletter

And that’s where I got on to the book. Its text is in German, but so what? There are great diagrams, drawings, and photos galore. You could easily build one of the chests from the book, with a little head-scratching. There’s dendrochronolgy reports, exploded drawings – all kinds of great stuff. I love these European books on material culture.

overall diagram chest

 

3 chests

The chests date from the 15th-19th century. I first heard of them referred to as grain arks. They have an ingenious connection between the lid and a lip that runs around the top edge of the top rails, to seal the closure. They are all the same, and each one is different. I once saw one for sale at the Brimfield Antiques Fair in Massachusetts. Passed on it at $300 and kicked myself ever after.

They’re made of riven beech. Remember this post about the gates in Transylvania? http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/a-good-day-at-the-office/ That’s when I learned about that area being one of, if not the, most heavily forested parts of Europe.

I’ve seen these chests in England too. I wonder if they were made there, or brought there from the “east” (i.e. the Baltic) – seems this form was known all over. There might be something like it in the book Woodworking in Estonia too.  Chinnery’s book Oak Furniture: The British Tradition has a few, undecorated. All oak in that case.

I hope to get to build one before too long. I might have to substitute oak for the beech. Our beech is not usually such a good riving wood. Twisty inside.

I’ve been reading a lot about furniture lately. Tonight’s post is about journals, I have one about books in mind, but am out of time for writing tonight. Here goes. We’ve been over this before, but there’s new folks. 

 

There’s many shades of furniture enthusiasts. For those who lean towards “period” furniture, (not a clearly defined term – but maybe it’s stuff made before machine-work’s dominance), there are two journals I regularly read that are essential. Milwaukee, Wisconsin is home to the Chipstone Foundation – http://www.chipstone.org/ a non-profit foundation dedicated to preserving decorative arts, and promoting research and publications in the field. Since 1993 they have published American Furniture, an annual journal edited by Luke Beckerdite. It featurs various articles and an extensive bibliography. I am often surprised at the number of woodworkers I meet who don’t get this journal. Even if you don’t read it, the pictures alone are worth the investment. Usually runs about $60 per issue…I just saw some back issues for sale at $37-55. Many will say “read it on chipstone’s site” – but not all the photos are there, and they haven’t got all the articles up yet…they might never catch up.

 

American Furniture

American Furniture


In the US even less-well-known is the British group, the Regional Furniture Society. http://www.regionalfurnituresociety.com/home.htm Much different than the Chipstone Foundation, RFS is an all-volunteer, or mostly all-volunteer organization with no direct museum affiliation. Many of its members are in the museum field, but some are woodworkers, some antiques dealers or collectors…there’s quite a range of people in the group. Their annual journal, these days edited by Adam Bowett, is called Regional Furniture, first published in 1987. Their newsletter, published twice a year, often makes me want to leave home. They have field trips, study days, visits to collections both public and private – an amazing array of information. Book reviews, etc. The publications are available to members – right now US membership runs about £40, so around $60.

Regional Furniture

Regional Furniture

OK. Three journals. The Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM) have been publishing their journal, American Period Furniture and newsletters since 2001. http://www.sapfm.org/index.php Joining the society also brings you in touch with a wide range of woodworkers, some of the best in the US today…they have regional chapters with frequent meetings, demos, events – I am lucky enough to be part of the New England chapter, and Freddy Roman (and others) keeps arranging great events. When I attended one early this month at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, there were around 90-100 people there to see/hear Brock Jobe, Mary May and Don Williams. And pizza.

SAPFM's American Period Furniture

SAPFM’s American Period Furniture

A while back I wrote about some reading material that pertains to furniture studies; Chipstpone’s American Furniture journal is one prominent title that I never miss. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/add-to-furniture-makers-reading-list/  I just got the 2010 issue of that the other day…so it’s available now from wherever one buys books.

 I cut my teeth on furniture studies back in the late 1980s/early 90s with a complete focus on New England furniture of the seventeenth century. Before long that led to some dabbling into English furniture, the source of the stuff here in New England. Alexander showed me Victor Chinnery’s book, Oak Furniture: The British Tradition and the journal Regional Furniture. The latter has become another journal that I don’t miss, even when there’s nothing in an issue that directly interests me, I still collect the issue. You never know where things will lead, so it’s simplest to stay enrolled in the Regional Furniture Society and get the journal as well as their excellent newsletters. I read the newsletters from cover-to-cover, and usually come away wishing I was in England so I could sign up for some of their study days and tours. Maureen & I got to go on one of the weekends up in Yorkshire, just before the twins were born. We’ll get back at some point…

American Furniture 2010 and Regional Furniture 2010

 The Society is excellent, a throng of enthused amateurs and professionals, folks in the antiques trade, furniture makers, museum professionals and many other walks of life. The 2010 issue of the journal came earlier this winter, and has 6 articles in 175 pages; fitted out with color and B&W pictures. Here’s the contents:

  •  Forest Chairs, the First Portable Garden Seats, and the Probable Origin of the Windsor Chair.  Bob Parrott
  • Lake District Press Cupboards and Salt Cupboards. Sarah Woodcock
  • New Light on Fish and Verlander.   John Stabler
  • Makers of Dy’d, Fancy and Painted Chairs.  John Boram
  • More about Gillows’ ‘Country’ Chairs.  Susan Stuart
  • Elaborated Woodwork in Devon Churches.  Don White

 Furniture studies have no uniform approach; and the work done through the RFS differs from what we read in American Furniture; I like having my toes in both pools. There’s a lot to take from both journals. If you are inclined, see the RFS website to join the society, as a member you get that year’s journal and newsletters; there are also back issues available, more than 20 years’ worth! There’s a link on the membership page of the website where you can pay with paypal, saves having to convert $$ to £…

http://www.regionalfurnituresociety.com/home.htm

I have been unpacking from my trip to the Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum, which has then led into cleaning my shop. Thus not much photography lately. So I thought I’d dig out some pictures of period furniture. today I’d like to start with a cupboard from the Lake District.  The cupboard, dated 1691 and initialed E E H, is something of a wreck; having been incorrectly restored who-knows-when. So I will focus on the carvings and the door framing.  Pitsawn oak throughout.

 This is the central panel between the two doors in the upper section of the cupboard. Note the holes in the right-hand side of this view, presumably nail holes for fixing the panel to the bench for carving. Also the layout lines scribed with an awl are still visible on parts of the carving.

carved panel, 1691

carved panel, 1691

carving detail w layout

carving detail w layout

door framing

door framing

I didn’t shoot very much of this cupboard, but in this detail of one of the upper doors, you can see the framing arrangement. The stile with the (replaced) door knob runs the full height of the door, and is mortised to receive the horizontal rails. The hinge stile is shorter, and is tenoned into the horizontal rails…this requires some extra planning while laying out the stock and the joinery. The door swings on wooden hinges. Holes are bored into the top & bottom edge of the door frame, and pins are inserted that run into matching holes bored into the rails  above & blelow the door. If this stile ran the full height of the door, these pins would be driven into holes bored in end grain. I have seen many doors done that way, but sometimes you see them this way too.
E E H 1691

E E H 1691

Most of what I know about this group of furniture comes from Victor Chinnery’s Oak Furniture: the British Tradition (Antique Collector’s Club, 1979) – see  Chinnery’s discussion for his figures 4:169-4:183. Also, there was not too long ago an article on a related chest in the journal put out by the Regional Furniture Society. The citation is Michael Bucknole, “A Lakeland Chest Dated 1683″ in Regional Furniture (vol 18 ,2004) pp. 68-77.  To learn more about the Society, and to join, see their website  http://www.regionalfurnituresociety.com/  – the journal is excellent, the newsletters always make me wish I was over in England. They have great trips, tours and workshops. A very enthusiastic group…
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,243 other followers