June 23 c-arm

The June 23 c-arm class is in session this week.  I have written before about making my favorite chair.  I recommend those posts to anyone who wants to know more about the C-arm, the most refined and complex of all  Windsor chairs.


The class is noticeablely different from other C-arms.  Out of 19 people in a class required for Knighthood, there were no knightings.  On the other hand, there were twelve in the raising.  The two numbers are related.  Raising twelve students to master chairmaker, means almost two thirds of the class was making their first advanced chair.  All these people are just beginning their chairmaking studies. They are new blood keeping the craft alive and vital.  I expect that over the next two years a lot of them will become knights.


Among this group are Mary and Charles Shevlin, husband and wife; and Phil and Phil Bensing, father and son. Young Phil will begin his senior year in high school this fall. Joe Paterson and Steve Denvir are here from Ontario, and Peter Young flew in from Australia. Peter has been writing about Windsors for an Australian woodworking magazine.  Joe, Steve, and Peter are in the vanguard of accomplishing The Institute’s stated purpose “For hand made Windsor chairs to take over the world.”


* * * *


Fred, Don, and I have already decided to forward a nomination from this class to the Board of Directors of the Chairmaker Hall of Fame.  I will the present Travis Butler’s innovation at the Board’s July meeting.  Travis is also scheduled to become a Knight of Windsor during the November 17 NYC bow back side chair class.  If the Board of Trustees approves his nomination for field trials, and then inducts him, Travis could become a Knight of Windsor and an Immortal the same year.  I think Travis will also be the youngest Immortal.


The Hall of Fame bylaws grant me the privilege of naming an innovation once it has resulted in membership.  I am kicking around two:  “Bultler’s Bridge” or “Bridge to Terabutlia.”  If you don’t get the second one, you don’t have any kids in middle school.


At the July meeting the Board of Trustees will be voting on another nomination that just wrapped up its field trials.  I will report favorably on an innovation suggested by Sir Ken Hall.  I don’t have a name yet.  I am interested in suggestions from you who have used his innovation while in trials.


Assuming affirmative votes for both Sir Ken and Travis, by the end of the year, the number of members of the Royal Orders also counted among the Immortals will increase from three to five. Currently, only the late Sir Richard Nichols, Sir Croxton Gordon and His Grace Gordon Keller, have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.


* * * *


During the week I read and approved the galleys for an article that will be published by Popular Woodworking in the October issue.  Last week we shot the photos for another article that will appear in the following issue.  If you like the articles I write, you should subscribe to that magazine. That’s the only place I publish anymore.


Having said that, I did contribute several paragraphs to an article being written by an editor at Early American Life magazine.  The piece is about writing arm Windsors.  It will appear in their October issue.  We will teach our writing arm class November 3.  The week we are teaching any particular style of chair I often write about the problems that chair entails.  It is a natural time, as the chair is on my mind.  I may include my contribution in that week’s posting.


* * * *


You may have seen newscasts about the flooding in Clarksville, MO. Many of you know that this quaint tourist town is home to H. G. Ralph Quick and his wife Caron.  They run a very successful Windsor chairmaking shop there.  People who have been in classes with Ralph and Caron have emailed to ask if I knew how they were doing.


I heard from Ralph this week.  He emailed me the news and some photos of Clarksville. The town is a mess, but so far Ralph and Caron have been spared. Several more days of rain are predicted starting this weekend, and they are nervous.

Caron did leave a brief message on our answering machine.  In the midst of all these troubles, she did have exciting news.  She and Ralph and their chairs are going to be in an IMAX movie.  We are waiting for more details, and I will report them here.


* * * *


After that news, you need a good laugh. To tickle your ribs, here’s another offering from our humor archive called “A Duck Walks into a Chair Shop…”


The Windsor Institute was wrestling with lots of problems caused by Shaker chairmakers making Windsors and selling them on the internet. (See last week’s post.)  All that took a back seat to the recent pigeon problem.  Swarms of pigeons invaded the campus.  They perched on the peak of every roof.  They landed on cars.  They took over the bending area.  Their droppings covered every surface.  Anyone leaving the buildings was instantly targeted by numerous birds swooping and pooping at once.


The staff was desperate. They tried all sorts of pest control experts and exterminators, but the birds were determined to stay. At last, a stranger showed up dressed in a costume made up of many different colored patches.  The stranger spoke first to Fred and Don and told them he could get rid of the pigeons.  The desperate Windsor chairmakers escorted the fellow to the office, where Mike was hiding under his desk.


“This guy says he can get rid of the pigeons,” said Don.  Mike crawled out and eyed the guy with suspicion.  Wearing that funny outfit, he didn’t look like he could be trusted.


“My name is Mr. Piper,” the stranger told Mike. He handed Mike his business card which read “P. Piper, Pest Control.”

 “I can get rid of your pigeon problem,” claimed Mr. Piper.  “To top it off, I’ll do it for free.”


Free?  That got Mike’s attention.  “There is just one catch,” Piper added.  “You must ask me no questions.  If you ask me a question it will cost you two grand.”


Fred, Don, and Mike huddled. “What the heck.  If it doesn’t work, it won’t cost us anything.  And if it does work, we’re golden.”  The three told Mr. Piper to do his best.


“Fine,” the man in the multicolored costume responded.  “But remember, any questions and you owe me $2K.”


The next day Mr. Piper showed up at The Institute.  He was carrying something under a cloth cover. He walked to the middle of the lawn and pulled off the cover.  Under it was a cage containing a blue pigeon.  He opened the cage door and off flew the blue pigeon.  Immediately, the huge flock of pigeons who had taken up residence at The Institute took to the air.  In a huge cloud, they flew off after the blue pigeon.  Meanwhile, like the pigeons Mr. Piper disappeared.


Several days later Piper showed up at The Institute. “I just dropped by to make sure you were satisfied with my work,” he told Mike.


“Yeah. Yeah.  We’re delighted,” Mike answered.  “Can you come up the office?”


Fred, Don, and Mike were again alone with the man in the many colored outfit.  “I have to ask you a question,” Mike said.

Piper held up his hand to stop Mike.  “Remember, no questions. If you do ask me one it will cost you two large.”  Mike reached into his pocket and took out his wallet.  He counted out 20 Ulysses S. Grants and gave them to Mr. Piper.


He asked, “You got a blue Shaker chairmaker?”


* * * *

If you would like to receive periodic updates, tips, tool reviews, and new sources, that are outside the scope of this blog, join our mailing list by emailing me at mike@thewindsorinstitute.com Help us spread the word about this blog. Tell others.