I am not able to put into words to convey the depth of what I am learning here. The information is so relevant and voluminous that my brain is almost on overload – and yes I am taking notes. Over the last two days I attended “Anatomy of a Masterpiece” by Jeffrey Greene, “Measure Twice or Not at All” by Jim Tolpin, “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design” by George Walker and “Early American Furniture: Casework and Detailing” by Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton, as well as the keynote address by Thomas Moser. Wow! The best part of this event is the Q&A sessions. Yesterday I got to sit with Jeff Greene, and Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton, for an hour and a half and ask whatever question I could think of, from glues to tools to shell and fan carvings. There were only four of us in one session and 10 of us in the other! Do you know what it would cost to get these guys to put down their tools and focus on all your questions?
Jeff and Steve go 100 percent and they travel heavy. They brought a number of their pieces and of course they all come apart. Someone asked Jeff about secret compartments and within a minute he had taken the pigeonhole assembly apart from a slant top desk to show all the compartments and how they are made. Man this is gold!
Greene’s presentation consisted of a well-detailed trip through the development of furniture from the Jacobean period to the Federal. Included were a number of slides that showed close-ups of details that indicated a change in design. Greene also covered the reasons why the styles changed. I can now tell the difference between a Queen Ann and Chippendale piece. Greene also talked about the regional differences in furniture between Rhode Island and other parts of the Colonies. And get this, he is producing approximately 50 pieces a year working alone!!!
Jim Tolpin gave a very thought-provoking talk about the difference between machine and hand-tool work and design. The evening was capped off by a presentation from George Walker concerning the use of classic column orders in determining the size of a piece of furniture. The Marketplace (Lee Valley, Lie-Nielsen, Blue Spruce, Benchcrafted and the Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM), to name just a few, was great. SAPFM was running the Hand Tool Olympics, led by Mike Siemsen. The first day’s contest was ripping a board. The cut was timed and examined for square. Fortunately, it was pine and the saws were sharp. I thought I did good ripping the 3′ board in 20 seconds but was informed that Deneb Puchalski of Lie-Nielsen had done it in 10 seconds. I felt better when I was told he was considered ineligible to win a prize. My elation was deflated when Mike said I was also ineligible. Oh well.