Making Memories


            File this one under “Why I Love My Job.” The November 16 Balloon Backs chair class is in session this week. In this class everyone makes two balloon back Windsors, an early 19th century variation on the bow back side chair. Kelly Rothermel is attending the class with her father, His Grace Kurt, Duke of Windsor. Kelly took sack back with her father back in 2007. Since then, she has graduated from college, taken a job teaching in the same parochial grammar school she attended as a girl, and has gotten engaged.

            Kelly plans on marrying her fiancé a year from now. At the Catholic wedding Mass the bride and groom sit on chairs on the ambo, near the altar. Kelly is making the chairs she and her husband-to-be will sit in at their wedding. I get a kick out of imagining Kelly’s decedents cherishing the chairs their ancestor sat in when she was married.  I won’t be around to see, but I bet they fight over who inherits them.

            H.G. Kurt is also making two balloon backs. He plans on giving those to Kelly so that the new bride will start off married life with a set of four chairs around her table. As my wife Susanna says all the time, here at The Windsor Institute, we make memories. There will be many memories attached to those chairs being made here this week.

            We have so many members of the Royal Orders here this week, Kelly will be all alone when she is raised to Master Chairmaker. We are earling Sirs Albert Filo and Lyndon Gallagher this week. Fortunately, our earls have their wives with them. Otherwise, Kelly and Ken Kimber will be the only members of the Assembled Multitude.

          At his earling  Sir Lyndon becomes far more than Lord Lyndon. His elevation to earldom places him in command of all Canadian Knights. Until now, Sir Jean-Francois Theoret, The First Knight of Canada has been in command. Royal Orders regulations pass command to the highest ranking member from a country. Sirs Stig Brandvik and Vincent Lavarenne are the First Knights of Norway and France. Meanwhile, an Australian chairmaker is one class away from Knighthood and First Knight status. These guys underscore why I am never understanding when someone says, “I love to take a chair class, but I’m from Iowa and its such a long way to New Hampshire.”

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            We have had a flurry of newspaper articles about Institute alumni pass over our desk recently. When we tell our students how to go about getting this sort of free publicity we always assure them that they will not end upon page 19 below the fold. Instead, they will be featured prominently, often on a front page.  The guys mentioned below prove that point.

            The above mentioned Lord Lyndon was featured in the Hudson, Quebec Gazette. The article was written to promote the sixth annual Tour des Ateliers de Hudson et de la Region (Tour of Workshops in Hudson and the Region.) A rocking chair by Lord Lyndon was featured in the tour’s brochure and his compass plane and spokeshave graced the cover.

            The front page had a tease with a color photo of Lord Lyndon with a local gallery owner sitting in a group of his chairs. The article about Lord Lyndon and his chairmaking took up an entire page.

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            Roger Engle’s home in Hudson, Ohio and his chairmaking were featured on the front page of the Akron Beacon Journal’s Home section.  The article took up the entire page and had three full color pictures. The text took up a third of the jump page as well. The article promoted the annual Hudson Heritage Society’s Holiday House tour.

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            An article about George Mathews’ chairmaking business took up two-thrids of the front page of the Winston-Salem Journal’s Living section. It is accompanied by five color photos of George working, of his chairs, and of his tools. The text takes up more than half the jump page along with two more color pictures of George.

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            Sir Paul Thomas’ chairmaking business was promoted on the front page of the Buffalo Business First. The article was accompanied by two color pictures of Sir Paul working and another of him standing next to a Nantucket fan back.

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