Monthly Archives: August 2008

Odds ‘n Ends

            I took a break from writing this blog.  Things have been so quiet this summer I assumed everyone had gone fishing.  They didn’t seem to be thinking about chairmaking. 

              I enjoyed the break.  I did not waste my time off.  I am now about ¾ of the way through a sequel to the middle grade novel I wrote last winter.  I am working at getting the first book published.  If I succeed, I am pretty sure you will get to read the sequel, as well. I have enjoyed writing these books. It has been a long time since I had that much fun. If I can launch these two, I plan to write a series of continuing adventures based on the Comet Team.

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              We added a new duke to the Royal Orders during the August 4 sack back class.  His Grace Matt Coughlin became the 20th Duke of Windsor. His Grace is is on the shop floor as I write.  He has returned this week to repeat the Philly high back, a chair he really likes.

              The sack back class did not need a lot of prompting to get in on the fun at His Grace’s duking. They quickly figured out the Long Kiss and drew it out as long as possible.  The event was digitally well recorded.  His Grace was very happy when I called for thumbs up or thumbs down.

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             We had a very unusual occurrence this summer. We had back to back inductions into the Chairmaker Hall of Fame.  Sir Ken Hall was inducted in July for his innovation Hall’s Mark. This technique makes it much easier to get a chair back on square.  Travis Butler was inducted in August for his innovation Bridge to Terabutlia. The Bridge makes it much easier to drill front leg holes. Both innovations apply to all chairs.  So, everyone taking a class now learns them both.

             The certificates commemorating these innovations have been mailed to the Hall’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, His Grace Wayne Murray. His Grace will sign them and return them to The Institute. One copy will be given to the inductee.  The other will hang in the Hall of Fame where all chairmakers can admire it.

               By the way, Sir Ken joins His Grace Gordon Keller, Sir Croxton Gordon, and the late Sir Richard Nichols as the only Hall of Famers also in the Royal Orders. Travis is scheduled to be knighted in November.

             These two innovations are the first to result in inductions since last year.  In July 2007 His Grace Gordon Keller was inducted. Prior to that, the last induction was in 2004.  These long gaps illustrate how hard it is to be chosen for the Hall of Fame. There is a good reason why we call this august group the “Immortals.”

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                  The staff never ate so well as it did during the August 4 sack back class.  Normally, Fred, Don, and I bring either a sandwich or a frozen dinner to heat in the microwave oven.  Lunch is not an event for us.  Its purpose is to put fuel in the furnace.  For a week of August 4 we ate like kings because Pamela Dockery was a member of that class.

             Pamela is a chef and teaches cooking.  She took the sack back class to make a chair for herself.  However, she took advantage of the opportunity to try out a new group of recipes.  Pamela is working on a line of nutritious meals that can be made on the road with minimal cooking equipment. We were the guinea pigs.

          Every day, we were treated to gourmet meals. Pamela made lots of food, so there was plenty for us to have seconds. (OK, already.  So what if I even had thirds.) You can get an idea of how we ate by visiting her website pameladockeryfood.com.  You will get hungry just looking at the pictures.

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           I  recently received the below email from Sir Mark Ferraro describing the thinking behind his new email address.   “Since it will be impossible for me to even think of obtaining a vanity license plate that incorporates Windsor, chair maker and so forth, I thought I would seize the opportunity to claim my space in the digital world.  I am the sole owner of the email address notashakermaker@gmail.com  

           I have received many comments on the address, not least of which are the many attempts by correspondents to guess what the heck the address means.  There is still a great need to inform the general public about “A duck walks into a chair shop….” and the other virtues of Windsor chairmaking. 

            Kristen (Mark’s daughter) did find a job in New Hampshire.  She is the new Deputy Assistant Associate Undersecretary for Student Experience, reporting to the Director of Student Life at FranklinPierce University at the residential campus in Rindge.  I now have another reason to visit New Hampshire on a regular basis.” 

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            Here is an interesting fact out of  Windsor chairmaking history. When chairmaking was young and chairmakers were still perfecting their skills, they had a lot of trouble with their bendings.  It was very common for their bows to delaminate.  Chairmakers would have to glue these delams back down so they could use the bow. 

            In those days the only glue available was hide glue.  When Windsor chairs chairs were used outside where they were frequently rained on, the water soluble hide glue would fail and the  delams would give way.

             In those days politeness was a universal virtue.  People were very careful to never criticize or embarrass anyone else.  When a Windsor bow would delaminate, everyone would ignore and pretend not to notice the problem.  This time in chairmaking history was known as The Silence of Delams. 

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