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Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes
I posted a page with about 12 new spoons for sale, for those inclined. Mostly cherry this time around. I have lots of it to use up. Not a bad situation to be in…
here’s the link, http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-for-sale-june/
or it’s at the top of the blog’s front page too.
I’ve been working….prepping stock for some chests, a chair or two and some stools.
here’s a panel for an upcoming joined chest. I usually think of this as a vase or pot full of flowers & foliage. Nowadays some see faces in it. A similar panel was in the wainscot chair I posted a few days ago.
Here’s the beginning of one that I copied just from a poor photograph. So I made a lot of the detail up. Used gouges & chisels to outline, instead of a V-tool. It requires several consecutive thoughts to establish the pattern in the middle. You can make your mistakes out where the leaves are…
Here’s the finished panel. Mostly, might add some details around the edges.
Probably you saw the update from Jogge about the Wille film. Thanks to all who chimed in… http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/761142325/the-spoon-the-bowl-and-the-knife-craftsman-wille-s/posts/500426?ref=email&show_token=b2ed6e52d7f7db05
For a woodworker, I have a pretty ideal job. My daytime gig is to make furniture in front of the museum’s visitors. All day, that’s what I do. No pressure to finish/sell, etc. Just make the stuff we use in the re-created village c. 1620s. For 25 years, I have concentrated on 17th-century joiner’s work. English/New England. Totally captivated, still engrossed. I must have five or more pieces underway right now.
BUT….for the past few years, I have been distracted into wanting to build other stuff too. Except I can’t. In my shop, it has to fit that 17th-century context.
I have enough tools to go around, so if I had a shop at home I could tackle what I please. But there’s no room in this tiny house for a shop. Oh, that’s another story. The spoons serve to get me my creative fix at home…
So I compile ideas on stuff I want to build when the time is right. This new books is real high on the fantasy list. Der Henndorfer Truhenfund
I found out about this book from the Regional Furniture Society. (new website for them here: http://regionalfurnituresociety.org/ ) Bill & Gerry Cotton have made a few trips to Romania to study old furniture there; and they saw over 100 of these chests stored in a church. The RFS made a study trip there, and the reports were in a recent newsletter.
And that’s where I got on to the book. Its text is in German, but so what? There are great diagrams, drawings, and photos galore. You could easily build one of the chests from the book, with a little head-scratching. There’s dendrochronolgy reports, exploded drawings – all kinds of great stuff. I love these European books on material culture.
The chests date from the 15th-19th century. I first heard of them referred to as grain arks. They have an ingenious connection between the lid and a lip that runs around the top edge of the top rails, to seal the closure. They are all the same, and each one is different. I once saw one for sale at the Brimfield Antiques Fair in Massachusetts. Passed on it at $300 and kicked myself ever after.
They’re made of riven beech. Remember this post about the gates in Transylvania? http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/a-good-day-at-the-office/ That’s when I learned about that area being one of, if not the, most heavily forested parts of Europe.
I’ve seen these chests in England too. I wonder if they were made there, or brought there from the “east” (i.e. the Baltic) – seems this form was known all over. There might be something like it in the book Woodworking in Estonia too. Chinnery’s book Oak Furniture: The British Tradition has a few, undecorated. All oak in that case.
I hope to get to build one before too long. I might have to substitute oak for the beech. Our beech is not usually such a good riving wood. Twisty inside.
I’ve been spoon-mad lately (you could tell, right?) – carving lots of them. But it’s May, so there should have been warblers here. I missed most of them. This spring was lousy for me, birdwatching-wise. I think George Walker saw them all. I’ve been pretty busy with one thing or another. Most of which was not birds. My timing was way off, and when I was available – well the weather stunk up the place. We had yellowlegses in the river a bit, one in this photo, 3 came in another day…
I did manage some woodworking recently, just no photography to speak of. Here’s a joined form I’ve made for a client, along with the “half a pair of joint stools…” The form is made just like what’s in the book, just stretched out. This one’s about 80″ long. In this case, I beef up the long rails, these are about 1 1/2″ thick, to keep them from flexing. http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm
The tops of the stools and the form are perfectly quartersawn oak. Beautiful stuff. I don’t usually get too carried away with the natural beauty of wood. But this stuff was great. These go with a table I’ve been building. I’m not assembling the table until it’s ready to go out. At 7′ long, I haven’t the room for it to hang around. Plus that large a flat surface would accumulate stuff quickly. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/revisiting-a-well-known-collection/
A wainscot chair got done recently. This replaces in my shop an earlier version of this iconic chair, my first version sold last fall. We’ll see if this one sticks around or not. I have to get in the shop and shoot some proper photos of it soon. Before it gets too dusty…
A few weeks ago I made a carved box for EAIA. They ordered it from the museum, and then it went in their auction. Someone ended up with it, I hope. This one was also made from quartersawn oak, with a pine bottom. It got away w/o real photos, or measurements. It’s about 7″ high, x 20″ wide. I try to keep up with a record of these things; and in recent years have not missed much. Previously, I made a slew of these carved boxes and never shot them at all. From time to time, I hear from people in the past who say, “I still have my box…” and I had forgotten I ever made them one…
Still have some slots open in Roy Underhill’s Woodwright School for the joint stool class in July. Fun will be had. Come on down…
I got a note back from Jogge Sundqvist the other day, when I wrote to congratulate him on the immediate success of the kickstarter fundraising. Here’s part of what he wrote:
This is just overwhelming!
I haven´t in my deepest imagination ever thought that we should reach the goal so quickly. Within 24 hrs…
This is so helpful, not just the money, it also strengthens everyone involved in self-confidence and trust in the movie to be something really good.
And everyone involved in the film is full of humility and wonder at the response we’ve had to make the film about Wille.
We have a little way to go before our actual budget… I hope you still want to continue to spread the word about the film, every little contribution is incredibly valuable to make a film of high artistic quality and with a clear content.
Hi 5. he, he”
So if you are inclined, there’s still plenty of time to donate to this project. Here’s the kickstarter link, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/761142325/the-spoon-the-bowl-and-the-knife-craftsman-wille-s?ref=recently_launched or if you prefer, you can send a check to Drew.
Make it out to:
Country Workshops – Sundqvist video project
990 Black Pine Ridge Road
Marshall, NC 28753
BUT – you might ask: What’s all the fuss about Wille Sundqvist and some wooden spoons? Ha! You’d be amazed.
As the years keep ticking by, I often think about connections and chronologies. May times people will think about events in their lives, and how one simple happening might turn your life this direction or that…and I think that without Wille, I might not be a joiner/woodworker today. Certainly not a spoon carver. And yet we barely know each other…
I first heard of Wille of course from Drew Langsner, whom I met in 1980. That was the start of my woodworking career, although you wouldn’t have seen it coming then! I have often told the story of how I got to Drew’s Country Workshops to learn traditional woodworking. I was a mainstay there in the 2nd half of the 1980s and early 1990s (til I got a job…).
But how did Country Workshops begin? Drew has told me and many others the story many times, and a while back wrote it down in one of the Country Workshops e-newsletters. http://www.countryworkshops.org/newsletter31/ (scroll down to “CW History” – and if you haven’t yet, you can sign up for their free newsletter. It always has good stuff in it, besides update on classes and tools, etc.)
The gist of it is that Bill Coperthwaite brought Wille Sundqvist to meet Drew & Louise in 1976 or 77. Drew had a couple days’ worth of lessons from Wille, and was wanting more. Thus the idea of inviting him to come teach a workshop, which led to the Langsners hosting woodworking classes ever since.
Drew included Wille in his first woodworking how-to book, Country Woodcraft, in 1978. That’s where I first saw/heard of Wille.
Then as I became a regular student at Country Workshops, I often heard stories of Wille’s craft and his teaching, and also saw examples of his work. As it turned out, I met his son Jogge first, in 1988. Then a few years later I was able to attend one of Wille’s classes.
Here is a quote from Wille’s book, Swedish Carving Techniques (Taunton Press, 1990):
“Carving something with a knife or an ax is a very tangible way to get a sense of design. Because the object being made doesn’t have to be secured in any way, it’s easy to move it to different positions and see its lines and shape grow out of the blank. A three-dimensional object isn’t just a picture. It’s an infinite number of pictures, and all of the pictures must find harmony within the object. The lines of the object must compose one unit, congruent from whatever direction it is seen. Carving teaches design.”
And that is really a big part of it. Wille’s spoons are very deceptive. Unlike any furniture work I do, these are subtractive woodworking – you’re cutting wood away & leaving just the right bits. You hope. Each cut means something. There’s so many layers to what Wille teaches – the postures, the tools, the design. You learn about wood and how it grows; and its strengths and weaknesses. Also about the tools, the edge and how it slices. If you have ever seen me use a hatchet, that work comes to me from Wille, some of it directly and much of it through Drew & Jogge.
To me, the spoon carving is a revolutionary act. It helps cut through the mass-produced cheap culture that we have absorbed like zombies. Such a simple household implement, taken to extraordinary heights. Why shouldn’t our most basic kitchen stuff be beautiful? Out with plastic! Think about Coperthwaite and his quote “I want to live in a world where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.”
The kickstarter campaign runs for 4o more days and at this writing is over $7,000. That’s not counting whatever got donated directly to Drew or Jogge. Thanks to everyone from here who helped. If you’re inclined, please spread the word.
More links to some related material:
There is now a kickstarter fundraising site set up to help get the film about Wille Sundqvist underway. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/761142325/the-spoon-the-bowl-and-the-knife-craftsman-wille-s?ref=recently_launched
I’m in a rush right now (clean up shavings in the kitchen from last night’s spoons, help get the kids off to school, me to work, etc) – so I will write at length about this later. But let’s get it together to raise this money pronto. Shouldn’t be hard. When you get to watch this video, you will be amazed. Here’s a snippet from the kickstarter blurb
“The biggest risk this project is that Wille Sundqvist is 87 years old. He is getting tired of age but still he is working with craft everyday. Last week when I talked to Wille he said he was in good shape and that he was eager to start with recording the film in June. He told me he is refusing all orders just to make bowls and spoons for the most generous donors. This tells us how he looks upon his own status. But of course everything can happen with a man at his age.”
If you are leery of using kickstarter, you can send a check to Drew Langsner.
Make it out to:
Country Workshops – Sundqvist video project
990 Black Pine Ridge Road
Marshall, NC 28753
If you read Chris Schwarz’ recent post about a possible 17th-century image of a shaving horse http://blog.lostartpress.com/2013/05/21/a-17th-century-shavehorse/
Here’s how it came about. When talking with the EAIA crowd last week at Plimoth, part of what I discussed was our research over the years. Way back when, Plimoth had many shaving horses in the 1627 village. I first visited there in 1989 or so, and it looked like they all rode in on them.
By the time I got to working there (1994) they were gone. All gone. They had done some re-evaluation of the research behind that, and came up empty with 17th-century references. The best-known early images are the 15th-century German ones from the Mendel Hausbuch, etc. (these portraits are now online, Chris Schwarz recently posted the link to them, here it is again: http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/
There is a well-known 16th century one, also German, from a book on mining, De Re Metallica. (the only time you will see the word “Metallica” on my blog) – I think 1566 is the date, or thereabouts.
18th-century versions are well represented; Roubo, (copied here from one of Roy Underhill’s books) and Hulot…maybe even Plummier. Hulot as I recall isn’t properly a horse/vise arrangement, but a low bench with a notch to brace the far end of the workpiece against, and the near end bumps into a breast bib. ( I can’t find my picture of that right now…)
For the 17th century, what do we have? Moxon’s uncomfortable description of how to use a drawknife:
“…When they use it, they set one end of their Work against their Breast, and the other end against their Work-Bench, or some hollow Angle that may keep it from slipping, and so pressing the Work a little hard with their Breast against the Bench, to keep it steddy in its Position, they with the handles of the Draw knife in both their Hands, enter the edge of the Draw-knife into their work, and draw Chips almost the length of their Work, and so smoothen it quickly. “
Years later, I found an Essex County, Massachusetts court record that mentions an accident in which a ship’s mate injures himself while shaving or drawing hoops.
“Unice Maverick, aged about forty‑three years, deposed that riding to Boston with her son Timothy Roberts, they met with Richard Hollingworth upon the road, who inquired for a man to go to sea with him. Her son told him he would go and thereupon Hollingsworth shipped him at 35s per month. The voyage was to Barbados, thence to Virginea, thence to England and home to New England, and in case he received any of his wages in England, then he was to be allowed part of his wages for his payment there. He was upon the voyage about eleven months. She further testified that Hollingsworth only desired him to carry his adze with him, which he yielded to, but utterly refused to be shipped cooper. Sworn in court.
Moses Maverick, aged about sixty years, deposed that upon Hollingsworth’s return from Barbados, he met him at Boston and told him he was sorry for what had befallen Timothy Roberts on his voyage…
John Cromwell, aged about thirty‑five years, deposed that on the voyage “one morning Timothy Roberts comeing Auft upon the house Mr Hollingsworth asked him why he did not draw the hoops or shaue some hoops. Timothy told him he could not the vessel did roule soe. Mr Hollingsworth spoke Angerly to him and bid him make a horke or a galloss or some such like word he spake and timothy went forward againe and a little while after came Auft upon the house crying and sed O lord I am undone I have cutt my kne.” Sworn, 24:4:1671″
So the boy tore open his knee. If only he had a “horke or galloss or some such word” – so not only do we have what might be a weird case of transcription, but even the man making the deposition says “some such word” – so not a term known to him. Ahh, well.
Randle Holme discussed a wooden rig for coopers to shave stock with, the paring ladder. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=paring+ladder
1688 or so:
Early 20th century:
a couple of years ago, Plimoth
I know of one documentary reference from the 18th century, there must be many more. “a coopers horse” is listed in a 1773 inventory from New York. No drawknife interestingly. I saw this in New World Dutch Studies: Dutch Arts and Culture in Colonial America, 1609-1776 (Albany Institute of Art, 1987)
Nineteenth century is beyond me, but there are images and documentary references. This one’s from Nancy Goyne Evans’ book Windsor Chair Making in America: From Craft Shop to Consumer
So there’s the background. Jeff Burks came up with a possible 1690s French one, but it might be 1720s too. So if anybody can find it, Jeff can. We’ll see.
Then, when did the English style come in? The only images I know of this one historically are photographs, not very old then! Here’s Daniel years ago using mine…
I got an email today from Brock Jobe at Winterthur about the website for a very involved project that is a collaboration between several museums. It’s called “Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture”. Here’s the link: http://www.fourcenturies.org/
The Winterthur Forum that I was part of in March was the inaugural event – but there will be more exhibitions, lots of web content and more.
It’s very much worth the time to explore the website, and come back to it for additional content as it expands.
well. I’ve been swamped lately. Just back last Sunday night from a week in Maine at Lie-Nielsen,
Here’s their tiny blurb about it:
“Just finished shooting our fourth DVD with Peter Follansbee, “17th Century Great Chair.” Details coming soon…”
Because it is May, I got some osprey shots in Damariscotta.
Then finished up there with a two-day class in riving, planing & carving. First thing Monday morning it was off to work, trying to get the shop organized, then jumped right into prepping for a talk I gave today to EAIA whose annual meeting was at Plimoth. It was simple enough to do the lecture; but then all day in the shop there were toolies who stuck around and asked questions that were more in-depth than some of my usual fare. It was great, but now the lawn needs mowing, we’re trying to fence out some groundhogs; the kids’ weekend activities – (horse-back riding & baseball) are coming up and the ordinary dump run, etc.
Oh, and it’s been still almost sweater weather at some recent points, but now it’s hot. so out with the woolens, find the window screens, etc.
so that’s why no blog lately. I hope to get back to it pronto.
here’s photos from the class at Lie-Nielsen, it was a great group of people – I always have a good time there. Also a link to their facebook page about it. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151424181563016.1073741844.100708343015&type=1
My blog is not noted for its variety. I keep saying the same things over & over again. Drawboring. Green wood. Carved oak. Hand tools. My kids. Today’s bird. (Great Horned owlet, thanks for showing it to me, Marie. Look at the feet on this creature!)
And Drew Langsner.
If you have read this blog, you know how I feel about Drew and the work he and his wife Louise have put into Country Workshops over the past (maybe 34, 35) years. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/how-did-i-get-started-country-workshops-the-langsners-is-how/ Today I got a new copy of an old book by Drew called, of all things, Green Woodworking. The original 2 versions of this book have been out of print for some time, but now Drew has brought this one back in an Author’s Reprint Edition.
The book first came out in 1987, by which time I was a “repeat offender” at Country Workshops; i.e. I took classes there regularly. I remember a couple of years making 2 trips down there per year. (900 miles each way). I devoured the book when it was new. I still keep the hardcover edition in the shop, and still refer to it from time to time.
Spoons, they’re here. I learned to make them from this book and its predecessor, Country Woodcraft, before meeting Jogge & Wille Sundqvist at CW. You can make a spoon right from the book, I just re-read the chapter a week ago. Drew outlined the book by devoting each chapter to a technique, Hewing, Riving, Shaving and so on. Each chapter then has a project that highlights that particular technique. At one time or another, I have made most everything in this book. Just the other day, I was talking with my wife about making the firewood carriers again. I used to make lots of them. The seeds of my joinery work are in there too – Drew profiled several woodworkers in one section, including Alexander. Mention is made of the beginnings of JA’s study of 17th-century joinery.
If you don’t have this book, now’s your chance to get it direct from the horse’s mouth. Drew sells them from Country Workshops, $35 plus $7.50 shipping & handling. www.countryworkshops.org
Of course, I am biased – I’ve known Drew since I stumbled down there in 1980 as the greenest 22-yr old you can imagine. So read what Chris Schwarz said in his post “10 books that changed the way I think” – Drew got 2 of the 10…
“Green Woodworking” by Drew Langsner. This book is like visiting a foreign country, a delightful foreign country. Even if you have been woodworking for decades, this book offers surprises and insights on every page. It will make you more intimate with your material.
“The Chairmaker’s Workshop” by Drew Langsner. While John Brown’s book made me want to build chairs, Langsner’s gave me the information I needed to actually do it. Though I build chairs differently now, I could not have gotten started without this book.
You’ll remember I used to constantly badger people about a blog called ”The Riven Word”. Well, it is no more. My friend Rick McKee is no longer at the museum, as they say. But the good news is he has landed with some old cohorts of ours and is up to some pretty interesting hijinks. And has started a new blog about it. Right now, it’s off to a slow start, but I know he’ll bring some interesting stuff to the web…so sign up and drop Rick a note. Maybe we can guilt-trip him into writing frequently. Of course, I should speak, with my one-post-a-week of late.
here’s Rick’s new site: http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/
Recently, I got photos from two students showing the boxes they’ve made. First, Dennis Liu sent this shot of a box he started in a class we had at Country Workshops. He ended up taking his box apart at home, so he could add a till. His note said “it was a bit fussy to fit…” – Which is why I don’t do tills in the workshops! While he had it in for surgery, he decided on oak for the lid & bottom. Great look. Extra work, but well worth it.
Then came Seth Kelley. He took a 2-day carving class at Lie-Nielsen in which we split apart an oak bolt, planed our stock & carved some patterns. Afterwards, Seth wrote to ask me about a desk box in an article I wrote in 1996 about furniture from Braintree, Massachusetts. So I sent some notes and a couple of shots of the desk box. Nice thing about these is junk doesn’t pile up on the slanted lids as easily as on a flat-top box.
Buried somewhere on the blog is the article about making these boxes – http://pfollansbee.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/pf_box_articl.pdf
Thanks for sending the photos guys. Seth wins the real estate prize by sending more photos than Dennis. But both are nice work. Next carving class is coming up at Lie-Nielsen in Warren Maine, May 11-12. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/?pg=35
Hope to see some of you there.
By now, you know I am a big fan of this style of carved oak furniture. This chest is being offered at an auction in North Carolina, http://www.brunkauctions.com/lot-detail/?id=94982
It’s in pretty beat-up shape, lost its feet, top is trimmed and patched here & there, etc. But so what? The carving is all there. What fun. This is listed as attributed to the Mason/Messenger shops in Boston, but that’s a mistake. It’s Thomas Dennis from Ipswich, Massachusetts; 1660s-1700. It has never been published before in any of the numerous treatments on Dennis’ work…this one literally came out of the woodwork.
I noticed they have added a few more pictures from when I first saw it two weeks ago. These two show each end of the chest. Clearly one set is oak, with the ray-fleck pattern from the riven quartered stock. The first pair here seem very plain for riven, quartered oak. Now it’s really difficult to judge a piece by the photos; and these are snapshots rather than the good quality shots above..but if I had a chance to see this chest, I’d look at these end panels to try to understand why they are different from one set to the other. It almost looks like the figured set are sycamore/plane tree.
Someone will get a nice chunk of New England joinery history at a discount price. The condition will keep it from getting into the stratosphere. Me, I’ll have to carve my own – after the wainscot chair I have underway now.