Monday, March 17, 2008

Lots of Teaching



This is Chris Virden putting the finishing touches on his continuous armchair a couple of weeks back. Chris lives on a mountain in the National Park in Tennessee where he runs a lodge that folks hike in five miles to visit. His lack of electricity on the mountain made chairmaking seem like a good fit. Between him and Mark from Jericho Settlers farm in Vermont (he was here a ways back), I have found a theme in my generation. Talk to a guy around 40 and the conversation will soon turn to the things that they have learned to do for themselves, be it raising grass fed livestock, growing food, harnessing solar power or of course, making sugar. Chris dove headlong into the process as he used tools that he'd never even held before. One thing that I always admire in my students is the willingness to risk trying something new.

This week brings Bill Jenkins (Of Locust Farm Windsors)back to the shop. Bill has been here a couple of times before, his arrival seems to herald the beginning of the spring. Bills chairs can be seen in the HBO series about John Adams. He is making a cherry and butternut armchair, his first completely unpainted chair.

I went up to Parksville to a serious maple syrup producer and equipment dealer. They have 600 taps out and 500 more coming. I hope to go back up when they do a burn, I'd love to see a 12 foot by 4 foot pan boiling away! The folks who run it were revelling in the good year we are having. There is something about connecting ones life directly to the seasons and the weather that seems to breed joy (especially when the weather cooperates!). The longer that I live in the country, the more I covet and seek this connection.

2 comments:

Steve Ratliff said...

Pete, I wanted to pick up on your comment about your friend's "first completely unpainted chair." The guys in my woodworking club (in Manhattan, KS) are always giving me a hard time for painting my Windsor chairs. I understand that paint does a couple of things: 1) paint accentuates the lines of the chair instead of the grain, and 2) paint "covers a multitude of sins."

Still, I have the itch to try an unpainted Windsor. I'd be interested in any random thoughts about making such a chair including types of wood that might work well and look good together. I typically use white oak, basswood or poplar, and hard maple. Thanks!

Peter Galbert said...

Steve,
Thanks for the great idea for a topic, I'll be sure to post on it later this week.