Reminded of days gone by…

This photo popped up in my facebook stream today…

I had snapped the pic a few years ago, when I noticed that my former craft show sign was now a mitten holder. Made me a bit nostalgic for those days when I spent hours on a shaving horse in the yard, and countless trips over the basement stairs to my workshop, then loading the tiny truck with an entire booth’s worth of panels, tent, chairs and tools.

Seen here in the workshop with a young Master Hunter

We loved the camaraderie of our fellow crafters, liberal minded hippies like us. The common joke going around back then, in the early 90’s, was…”What would you do if you won the lottery ? I’d keep making chairs (or pots, or baskets) until the money runs out.”

They had a rule in the better craft circuits that the “makers” had to be the ones in the booth. You could not, say, run a sweat shop with a dozen elves and then have each one scatter on a given weekend to a dozen craft shows. I guess that kept them satisfied that these were “Individually”, and therefore “authentically” handcrafted goods.

It made it difficult for us full time artisans to find the time and expenses to both create and sell our wares, and, though none of us were adequately compensated for the actual hours spent in producing, let alone marketing, we enjoyed a bounty of good companionship and meaningful work.

The first painting I did, for the very first exhibition of my painting career, was this one…

In the Chairmaker’s Wake

I used to carve poems and quotes in the slats.

This one was a favorite, by Willa Cather,
“The end is nothing, the road is all.”

It’s held up pretty well, the saying as well as the chair, over these last few miles. It’s been almost 20 years since I put down the drawknife and picked up the brushes. I made over 500 chairs while the shavings were flying. I have over 300 paintings under my belt…so far.

My hands turn 60 in a few months.
Faithful companions.
They have been leading me the whole time…
down this marvelous road.

Saved from the workshop…

As you may recall, when our log cabin was underwater in the flood last fall, my basement Chairmaking Workshop was decimated. Among the many attempts by friends during the rescue and cleanup operation was the valiant effort by our friend Susan to rinse and dry the few photographs that I had tacked to the rafters down there.

Oh, it hurts to look back on those days… anyway… today I am in the midst of clearing the office for tax prep and I ran across the tiny stack of the surviving photos. They tell a tale of very early days of my woodworking career and some of the fun that Peter Follansbee and I had and since most of you know me only as a painter I thought I’d share them as proof that once, in a time far far ago… I was a Chairmaker…

The early days

The beginnings at the Follansbee home on Pierce Rd.

Follansbee and Myself along the banks of the Little Conewago Creek...which as you can see is still in it's banks.


And now here's his son Daniel hard at work in his Plymouth Plantation workshop.

A chair for nephew Neill

This kid is now in college !

Little Nephew Johnny who is now 16 and well over 6 feet tall.

and...I think this is James, Stephanie's oldest son, Steph being my oldest friend from waaay back in high school...he's now at Brown ...that's my basement workshop in the background.

So there you have it. Now digitally documented for posperity.

When I decided to give painting my full time attention, circa 2000, one of the first things on my easel was this homage to that life of shavings, In the Chairmaker’s Wake…makes me want to sit on my shaving horse and think back on all the happy hours with the old drawknife…