|Micky Callahan and Steven Lash Founded SAPFM|
I joined the Society of American Period Furniture Makers the first year they started, and am proud of my membership number 170, since they now have over a thousand members across the country. I actively participated in each of their early conferences at Williamsburg and wrote articles for the first three issues of their Journal, which has become the premiere woodworking journal in the US.
Here is a short video which talks about SAPFM: Society of American Period Furniture Makers
However, after several years traveling to Williamsburg in January, which included a blizzard that closed the colonial village down for several days, I got to the point where spending January in San Diego seemed a better idea than looking for snow. That doesn't mean I lost interest in the activities of SAPFM. I follow them on the web, talk to other members often, joined the new Southern California Chapter when it was organized last year, and always look forward to the Journal.
|Outdoor Seating In Williamsburg|
The conference in Williamsburg is held in two sessions each year. It is titled, "Working Wood in the 18th Century" and is a great opportunity to meet with other furniture makers and collectors, listen to informative presentations and attend the banquet where the winner of the Cartouche is announced.
The Cartouche is a very significant award, but, here in Southern California, not many people understand what it means. I usually tell them it is like an Academy Award, since it is voted on by members of a group to recognize the achievements of another member of that same group. In other words it is an award of your peers, for lifetime achievement in a particular skill. You must be nominated and then a jury evaluates your efforts in various fields, like teaching, awards, creations, publications, lectures, etc.
Past winners have been craftsmen who made American period furniture, and all of these live on the East Coast. They include:
2013 Will Neptune2012 Allan Breed2011 Benjamin C. Hobbs2010 Steven Lash2009 Dennis Bork2008 Alfred Sharp2007 North Bennet Street School2006 Fred Stanley2005 Phil Lowe2004 Mack Headley2003 Gene Landon2002 Robert Whitley2001 John McAlister2000 Harold Ionson
A few of these are no longer with us, but all of them are outstanding in their field, and I have been fortunate to have met all of them at one time or another. It is a great group of talent.
In looking at the winners and their work, I never considered for a moment that I might be eligible for such an honor. After all, I am an American who makes period furniture, but my furniture for the most part is European in style. All of the forms which I make date from 1680 to 1840 and are completely hand made. They are just not American. Generally, I prefer English, Dutch, German and French.
So it was a complete shock when I was contacted late last year and told that I had won the Cartouche and should return to Williamsburg to attend the Banquet. Wow!
Of course, watching the weather during January was discouraging. Something about an Arctic Vortex? All I could see on the news was "Freezing Cold!" "Dangerous Travel Conditions" "Stay Home!"
When I landed in Chicago for the transfer, it was 20 below zero and our flight out was cancelled. We were very fortunate to find another plane which was just departing, although we sat on the runway for over an hour while they figured out how to de ice the plane. Landing in Richmond, we got a car and made it to Williamsburg for the last 5 minutes of registration. Then to bed at the Lodge.
|Period Furniture Demonstration|
The next day I attended the conference lectures and that night got ready for the dinner. I had brought my suit and grabbed a fresh white shirt from the cleaners which was still in the plastic bag. What I forgot was that I remove the shirt collar plastic stays for the cleaners, and I did not put them back. During my talk, as I warmed up, my collars went from straight down to curled up, like the hat on the Flying Nun. I had no idea why my wife, Kristen, was making those funny hand gestures from the table in the front of the podium until after the talk was over.
I can remember hundreds of lectures I have given over the years, both to large and small audiences. I have never had the sensation of a packed room of perhaps 200 people rising as one and giving me a standing ovation. I don't have words to express how that felt. Holding the Cartouche Award and hearing the congratulations of the other furniture makers is indeed a special feeling.
|Frank Klausz Teaching 9 year old Boy about Dovetails|
The weather cleared up a bit on Sunday, and Kristen and I had a chance to wander around the village to see the homes, shops and take some tours. We stopped in at the cabinet shop to talk with Brian and Bill, the two young cabinetmakers who were presenters at the conference. They were putting their shop back together and getting back to work. Since there were few tourists at that time of year, we had a good chance to talk for several hours.
|Kristen and Bill in the Cabinet Shop|
On Monday, we drove down to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to visit Roy Underhill. He moved about 4 years ago from his home in Williamsburg and purchased a rustic mill house outside Chapel Hill, where he lives with his wife, Jane, and his dog. It is a charming home, with a waterfall, and he teaches classes there for wild timber technology, for lack of a better term.
|Roy Is Always So Serious!|
The next day, we drove to see his school, which is in a 1907 storefront in town. It is a beautiful school room, and he teaches hand craft woodworking to a wide variety of students. The cool thing is that he has an antique tool store on the second floor, and it is one of the most comprehensive collection of good woodworking tools I have seen in years. The prices are right, and the tools are ready to go to work.
I left there with a nice boxwood plough. Like I need another plough. I can't help it.
|TOOLS FOR SALE!|
You may have seen the news about Atlanta. All day long on Monday and Tuesday there were weather reports about the storm, set to arrive that afternoon. The low pressure system off the coast was full of water and the cold front coming down from the North was fast moving and really, really freezing. Conclusion: Snowstorm in the South.
We raced up the freeway to get back to Richmond before the roads became impossible. We were sitting in our nice hotel room watching the snow fall when we got the message that our plane had been cancelled the next morning. They were working to reschedule us later in the day.
We were the first plane out of Richmond after they cleared the snow off the runway.
|Back At The Shop With Cartouche|
The older I get, the more I like the climate in San Diego.