One of the unexpected treats of visiting Wales this month was getting to visit the shop of Tim Bowen, an antiques dealer in Ferryside who specializes in vernacular furniture from Wales and the rest of Britain.
If you like Welsh stick chairs, or vernacular furniture in general, Tim’s Instagram account (@tim_bowen_antiques) is a great way to keep up with the things he picks up and shows the world. Chairmaker Chris Williams, who has been friends with Tim for years, took us over and Tim pulled out some interesting chairs from his shop and his personal collection for us to examine.
My two favorite pieces were a chair from Tim’s personal collection that looks like it was made in a barn with just a few tools. The armbow has a slashing scarf joint across its back, and the whole chair looks like it was made with both urgency and skill.
The other chair had a lovely single-piece arm and traces of early – if not original – paint.
All of the chairs Tim showed us were good enough to populate a museum gallery. And they represented a broad swath of Welsh chairmaking, from the craft at its most elemental all the way up to a chair that was almost as refined at the chairs that Chris Williams makes, with delicate decorative details.
Plus, I got to touch the chairs. All over. Feel the flats on the stretchers and the shape of the sticks. You can’t get that at a museum (not without getting thrown out shortly afterward).
Tim spent a good couple hours with us, patiently explaining what he knew about each chair – and what he didn’t. After decades in the trade, Tim is careful about making many official declarations about the date, provenance or even species of wood in any particular piece. He’s seen too many chairs in his career.
This is our last full day in Wales – tomorrow we head to Ireland for some rest and (sorry Lucy) more chairs.
— Christopher Schwarz
9 thoughts on “A Visit to Tim Bowen Antiques in Wales”
Tropical fuck storm plays limerick tonight and Dublin tomorrow if you’re looking for a great rock show after chairspotting.
Who’s the weirdo over there rubbing the legs of that antique chair?
Oh, that’s just Chris.
Hopefully Lucy has the privilege to sit in them first.
I always wondered what happened to those Oxford commas that were dropped. Now I know…
Fascinating chairs, making me realize that a Welsh chair can be many things and asking myself what makes a chair a Welsh chair other than where it may have been made. Besides the chairs you featured, my eyes could not help but drift to the paneled settle in the background and the odd slant-back paneled arm chair with the flat board seat and drawer.
Where to in Ireland? I would take nothing for a solitary two week road trip I made in the 90s that circuited all of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Maybe it is time to do it again.
These Welsh chairs are really nice, but what I’d really like is to make a ladderback chair from a tree. Chris, do you have any idea when somebody, anybody, might publish some information about making a chair from a tree? I’d really like to do that soon.
The book is still in the works. That’s all I can say. The video has everything you need to build the chair. Many have done it with the video alone
Many years ago I went on a third date and we went to a musume. She opened the case of one of the grandfather clocks to look inside. I about soiled myself. I didn’t enjoy the remainder of the date because I never knew if she would open or touch something.
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