The class I’m most excited about this year at our storefront is with furniture maker and finisher John Porritt. During the class, April 6-10, students will build their interpretation of a Welsh backstool using authentic materials and methods. And they will finish their chairs to have an aged appearance, which should be a class in and of itself.
You might not have heard of John. I hope to change that. I first read about him years ago in Good Woodworking magazine when John Brown praised one of Porritt’s chairs alongside a photo of Porritt’s chair. Fast forward more than 20 years and, out of the blue, I received an invitation to visit Porritt in Upstate New York, where he lives after moving from the U.K. (Read about that encounter here.)
Porritt has spent his life immersed in the craft, building chairs and furniture using dead-traditional techniques with wood and branches he harvested himself. He is an undisputed expert in finishing, especially repairing and coloring antiques to look like they had never been messed with. He also avoids most high technology (his wife reads his emails to him), he plays a mean guitar and is an outstanding storyteller.
During his week at our storefront, Porritt will teach students to build their own interpretation of a Welsh backstool using material from his rural New York shop. And then he’ll delve into the finishing aspects of the stool, something we don’t get to do much of during project classes.
It should be a delightful week. And I hope to lure Porritt and the students to my favorite bluegrass night at a local bar.
We have a couple places still open in the class. If you have ever wanted to get a taste of traditional rural craft, Porritt is the real, real deal. And the finishing knowledge is an impressive bonus. It’s an aspect of finishing that I know little about and I’ll be right next to you, taking notes.
I hope you can join us.
— Christopher Schwarz