Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring's Sprung

Well, at long last spring has arrived. It actually got into the 40s for a little while today. You would’ve never guessed it a couple days ago when we touched single digits. It has been unusually cold the past few weeks. Hardly any maple sap has been running in our taps. We put them in a few weeks ago but then it turned wicked cold again. Maybe now that spring is here we’ll see some action.

Our holz hausen has carried us this far through the heating season. This is all we have left. I did get a head start on next year’s wood last month so if we need to dip a little into that we’ll be fine. This was my first winter splitting my own wood for heating our house. We’ve used just under three cords. At $115/cord that would make our total year’s heat expense at around $350. Seeing as many in our area pay twice that per month to heat with oil, I’d say we made out pretty good.

Next week is my last Wednesday morning this year I’ll be researching and examining objects at the Fisher House. I made a commitment to spend the winter digging into Fisher’s furniture production but knew I’d have to stop in April. Our year begins to pick up once things thaw. Homestead projects, animals, etc. Lots to do this time of year and we’ve promised ourselves/each other we’d not overload ourselves again like last year. I’ll miss my weekly Fisher time, though. I feel like I’ve gotten to know the man in a way not many have. Spending so much time with the objects he’s created has been fascinating (and humbling, frankly). I still have so many unanswered questions after this first concentrated period of examination but I also feel like I have much more confidence identifying his workmanship, which was one of my primary goals.

This winter's reading

I’ve also been making preparations for a lecture I will be giving at the Wilson Museum in Castine, ME this August. It will be titled A Comfortable House: Furnishing the Maine Frontier. Here’s the official write up: 

Furnishing the homes of pre-industrial Maine was not the role of furniture-making specialists alone. While some of Maine's furniture was supplied by merchants from major style centers, a robust furniture-making tradition thrived within the State. Local farmer-artisans of various backgrounds and social influences utilized their resources to create furniture individually suited to themselves and their patrons. On Wednesday, August 13th, Joshua Klein will discuss this early furniture-making tradition, providing insights into the preferences, attitudes and abilities of these Maine craftsmen. The talk will also reference furniture currently displayed in the Museum's John Perkins House. Following the lecture, the Perkins House will be open for $5/person guided tours.

Should be fun. You can visit the Wilson Museum’s page for more info:

Jonathan Fisher's lathe

Speaking of the Fisher House… this week the vice president of the board, Rick Sawyer, and I collected the parts of Fisher’s lathe and assembled it. Remember my flashlight discovery in January? What I found back then were all the pieces to Fisher’s lathe scattered around his house and museum storage. Apparently no one knew what these miscellaneous wooden bits were and so they ended up dispersed in random places. Some in the attic, some in the shed, some in the basement. But I got it all. The discovery started for me in the archives when I found an old photograph of the lathe. As soon as I saw it I queried the board members and volunteers. Does anyone know where this is? No one knew anything about it. With picture in hand, I began sleuthing through storage. Bit by bit all was accounted for. I have been looking forward to assembling it for the past couple months and finally got my chance this week. I will talk more about it later but for now here’s a shot of it. 

The lathe rediscovered

Now that things are beginning to thaw, I hope to finish milling out my studio frame soon. (Don’t ask why it’s taken so long.) This winter has been long, cold, and hard. I am so happy spring is here… a time for new beginnings. This is going to be a good year.

Inpainting and patinating replacement pieces on a 19th century chest


  1. Very interested in your research. Can you tell me the names of books stacked on the desk in the photo? Thanks, Dan

    1. Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your interest. Here's the list:
      Arisans into Workers - B. Laurie
      Conservation Treatment Methodology - B. Applebaum
      Jonathan Fisher of Blue Hill Maine - K. Murphy
      Simple Forms and Vivid Colors - Maine State Museum
      Made in Maine: From Home and Workshop to Mill and Factory - P.E. Rivard
      Life of Jonathan Fisher - R.N. Smith
      Memoir of Jonathan Fisher or Blue Hill Maine - R.F. Candage
      Magazine Antiques August 1974
      American Painted Furniture 1660-1880 - D.A. Fales
      Agreeable Situations Society, Commerce, and Art in Southern Maine - L.F. Sprague
      Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn - T.C. Hubka
      With Hammer in Hand - C. Hummel
      Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York - P. Kenny