Friday, August 22, 2014

Oh Baby!

Two good things here:

1. Blueberries are picked. Our old house has a wonderful field through the woods and the owners have generously allowed us to go to pick there. We’ve ate some fresh but the vast majority go in the freezer. These little guys help stave off the winter blues when the eating is a little less exciting. We have one rake and the others pick by hand. 

 We are able to use our friend’s solar powered winnower to separate out the leaves. This clackety-bangety batch of old iron and wood is a true beaut. I love hearing the squeaking of the wheels accompanied by the faint plop of berries into the wooden box. What a thing it is to see!

2. And even better than blue berries… our new little baby is due in November. We are very very excited. So is Eden. He said he wants the baby to stay in his room because besides carrying all his pirate loot around for him he will also clean up all of Eden’s toys. Hmmm? This might be an interesting adjustment for our only child. We’re little by little trying to ease him into the change but I think his utopian bubble will nevertheless pop when little brother does finally come along.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mahogany Score!

During Saturday’s Antique Show, I had a gentleman inquire to see if I would be interested in some mahogany. In the 70s, a friend of his who spent time working in Nigeria had some of her belongings shipped back to the US. When the crate arrived, the goods were unpacked and the sturdy crate was set aside in the shed. Some forty years later, I was asked if I had any use for it. The guy knew it was nice mahogany and knew someone out there could use this stuff. Yes, please!

When I went to his house on Monday, I picked up the box along with some almost unused Swiss Made carving chisels he bought for a class years ago. The crate was free to a good home and the chisels were a very fair price. Grateful, I packed up the tools and crate and headed off on my way. The crate is made of (just shy of) 1” thick ribbon mahogany. There are 4 boards 32” long and 12” wide in there along with smaller boards too. Obviously some of these boards have nail holes in them in one side but some are free of holes except the edges. The smaller pieces will find a home in my repair wood bins but the bigger stuff I’d like to use for a project. Tea table maybe? I don’t know. What would you do with this stuff? 

The chisel score

V tool, veiners

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Though I am Not a Dealer...

And then I got up early again to do demonstrations all day at an antique show in Blue Hill. This is the third year I’ve had a booth at the Jonathan Fisher Antique Show. Though I am not a dealer, they let me sign up to demonstrate period woodworking and explain to the guests what my conservation practice is like. It works out well. If visitors want a break from shopping and haggling, they head over to my booth and watch me cut joinery and use period tools. Just about all day I have people standing around watching me. This year was as good as the others. I like meeting a lot of new people at events like this and it’s good seeing the dealers I haven’t seen since last year’s show.

Julia and Eden dropped by for lunch. Eden, as usual, was captivating the passersby with all of the explanations of conservation he’s heard Papa repeat countless times. The kid’s got my spiel down pretty good by now.

Displaying my most frequently used tools of the trade

Interior storage - Saw till

Interior Storage - Plane corral

The project I was working on at the show was one of the two sliding trays in my tool chest. I got it all finished except the glue-up. Once the next tray is complete, all I need is a lid and then we’re on to paint.

Speaking of paint, I saw two great painted chests in dealer booths. The first one was sponge grained.

 But this second one is so great, I think I might reproduce it on my tool chest. I have been tossing around a bunch of ideas for the decorative paint treatment on the chest. I have been narrowing it down to pieces that look a lot like this one. It was neat to have this one at the show to get a real close look at the brush strokes. I’ll have to play around with this and see if I can’t pull it off.

I love the "stringing" made by removing the paint while still wet.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Road Trip for a Carving Lesson

The sun was up before I got out of Maine

On Friday, I left the house at 4:00 am to head down to Beverly, MA for a carving lesson. My good friend Freddy Roman graciously agreed to show me the ropes of carving a slat I need to replace on a client’s chair. I met Freddy over at Phil Lowe’s Furniture Institute of Massachusetts for the morning lesson. Freddy, Phil, and Artie (the shop manager) were a great help. I am not sure if it was just because I brought them donuts from The Holy Donut in Portland but they very welcoming to me. We spent three or so hours going over sharpening tips for carving tools, special considerations for grain orientation, etc. I had to get back on the road after lunch due to another early morning on Saturday but it was just what I needed to boost my confidence to tackle the project head on.
My new Auriou seven piece set getting tuned up

A practice piece to work out how to approach the project

Thanks guys for your time and openness to share with me. (Especially you, Freddy.) It was well worth the twelve or so hours of driving it took to pick your brains about the project. I look forward to meeting up again sometime.

Artie, Freddy, and Phil

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tables: The Specification of Form

"The basic utility of a table goes without saying. Flat, hard, moveable surfaces for working or eating are at the most basic core of furniture needs. In the 18th and 19th centuries different task specific table forms were developed for dining, sewing, taking tea, playing card games, etc. This specification of form naturally coincided with the wealth of the patron. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution and the use of steam powered wood working machinery that opulent forms and extensive ornamentation (albeit mundane) were affordable for the majority of citizens." 

-from A Comfortable House: Furnishing the Maine Frontier

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Everyone Stayed Awake! (Almost.)

The talk took place in the Museum's newly renovated Educational Center

Just got back a little while ago from my lecture at the Wilson Museum. It was a lot of fun and we had a pretty decent turn out. About thirty or so folks attended. I had a healthy mixture of prepared material and ad lib to share with the crowd. In addition to my Powerpoint I brought my Nicholson bench and traditional tool chest (in progress) full of tools to show. I was able to keep almost everyone awake and attentive for the entire hour. (If you have ever done public speaking before, you know how major an achievement this is.) I felt pretty honored to be able to present this research at the museum. There are some really beautiful pieces in their historic Perkins House and the lower floor of the museum is full of a bunch tools. If you are in the area, make sure you check it out.

 To give you a flavor of the talk, here's an excerpt from my notes:

"Why do we need furniture? In most European languages the word for furniture is derived from the Latin mobilis which means movable. This etymological factoid is essential to understand the role furniture plays in a person’s life. Furniture is part of the context of ones home. When we think for a moment about how our homes reflect so much of who we are, the importance of the “movables” of our comfortable home context comes to light."

Everyone's engaged when you pull out the wooden planes...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Everyday Tastes of Regular People

“Painting preserves and embellishes furniture, and surely it is economical. These three qualities are the main reasons for the great popularity of this pleasing lesser art. It could be performed by both amateurs and professionals, and its appeal was widespread. Since it is not constantly striving toward the heights of style, painted furniture can be an accurate reflection of the everyday tastes of regular people.”

- Dean A. Fales, Jr., American Painted Furniture 1660-1880