William Brown is the owner of the Maine Coast Workshop, and an 18th Century-style furniture maker. Here's his furniture and carving website: LineAndBerry.com
Here's a tour of his Virginia workshop:
He grew up on a farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where he apprenticed in the workshop of E. Townsend Moore. During this time he gained a love of fine Pennsylvania-made furniture from the 18th century.
William’s career path took him into the medical field, where he became a successful anesthesiologist, but all the time he continued to build high-end furniture to sell to clients and to beautify his own home. William has been building furniture for over 40 years, which is obvious in the details of his immaculate furniture. Here's a video that highlights some of William's furniture:
William’s furniture has won multiple awards, has been featured in prominent publications, and his reproduction pieces have been sent to high-end galleries, and to heritage sites like James Madison’s Montpelier and the Jamestown settlement. William has especially become well-known as a leading authority on reproducing carved & gold-leafed “Bellamy Eagles”, made famous by 19th century wood carver, Edward Halley Bellamy, from Kittery, Maine.
William does make exact replicas of furniture, when requested by museums or clients, but most of his work uses historical furniture for inspiration, and then he adds his own creative touches and experimentation. He does extensive research and design work before making each meticulous furniture piece.
At one point in time William extensively built Windsor chairs for clients, including replicas of a couple of James & Molly Madison’s chairs for the museum at their Montpelier home.
William uses a mix of hand tools and power tools when building his furniture. He hanplanes & scrapes furniture surfaces, and cuts dovetails and mortise & tenon joints by hand. Most of his furniture is finished with natural oils and shellac, with hand rubbed wax to top them off.
It has long been William's dream to start and run a traditional woodworking school in his charming town of Camden, Maine, which he is now thrilled to share with his students.
Here is a slideshow of some of William's pieces:
Messler Gallery juried exhibition, Rockport, Maine – 2017, 2018, Jan. 2020 upcoming
Virginia Academy Center of the Arts, Lynchburg, VA; "The Art of Craftsmanship - A Woodworker's
Perspective; Summer 2019
Society of Period Furniture Makers juried exhibit – Thaddeus Steven Academy, Lancaster, PA, 2016
NY City Select Artists Exhibit – First in show for carving, 2008
Dining room furniture for Dolley and James Madison’s ‘Montpelior’ estate, Orange, VA – 2003
Historic Jamestown, VA – 2002, Boatbuilding exhibit; Built a boat tied to the ‘Susan B. Constant’ in the Harbour
Curtis Gallery exhibitor – Camden, Maine, 2019
Windsor Chairmakers – Lincolnville, ME
Awards: International Veneer Challenge 2018 - Honorable Mention: Furniture : “Federal Game Table”
Popular Woodworking Editor’s Choice award – 2017: ‘Sheraton Tea Caddy’
Popular Woodworking Excellence Award – First place, 2015; ‘Chester County Bible Box’
‘Best in Wood’ International Competition – Finalist, Woodworking Network, Chicago, 2018
Early American Life – Awarded ‘Top 20 Master Craftsman’ in two categories: Carving and Furniture: 2018, 2019, 2020
Fine Woodworking Magazine Gallery – William & Mary Chest-on-frame, 2018
Woodwork Magazine – Natural windsor chair, 2002
Feature article on windsor chairmaking – “Chairman of the Board”; Richmond Times Dispatch, 2004
Article for Highland Woodworking Magazine: ‘Eagle Carving’ 2016
Fine Woodworking Magazine – Making Federal Tables; article upcoming Jan. 2020
The Journal of the Society of Period Furniture – “Making a Serpentine Drawer Front”; Dec. 2020
My furniture is hand made in my small shop in rural Virginia. I also gain inspiration from my time each year interacting with the thriving crafts community of coastal Maine, where I spend time each summer in the shops of close friends who are master carvers and makers.
I grew up on a tree farm in Chester County, PA (Willistown Township) and served a two year apprenticeship with E. Townsend Moore, a cabinetmaker who had been a curator at Dupont's Wintertur Estate and Museum outside Wilmington, Delaware. He learned from Robert Treat Hogg who was part of the two centuries long legacy of Chester County fine furniture makers. Chester County furniture developed a unique style that stemmed largely from the 17th century Welsh Quaker settlers. Certain design features that I make extensive use of include line-and-berry holly inlay. Cherry, Maple, and walnut were the abundant local hardwoods that I use almost exclusively. The Philadelphia makers, two hours carriage ride to the East, were producing some of the finest furniture in the world, and that has been another strong influence on my work.
I've been making and learning about period furniture for over 30 years. I have taken courses at 'The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship' in Rockport, ME and some classes with Chuck Bender in Coventry, PA. My pieces have been selected for museums and historic sites, including James Madison's Montpelior and Historic Jamestown. I have won numerous international competitions.
Rather than exact precise duplications, I prefer to make what I call 'historically informed' pieces. Unless requested by a museum, my furniture is not an exact reproduction, but will incorporate design elements and joinery that would have been common at the time. I continue to scour museum archives and study originals for ideas: patterns, moldings, inlay designs, proportions. I enjoy sketching details of the Chester County pieces I see in homes and exhibits in my home area. I think that one develops a trained eye. So that's how I make a piece; the result is representative of what an 18th century maker might produce but each piece will be my own and truly one of a kind.
Most recently, I have begun to explore new, more contemporary directions, particularly with my carving.
My hope is that with the aid of a Virginia grant I will be able to pursue this exciting horizon and also begin teaching students, so that these arts will not be lost to this overly technical age.
See “About” on my website for further insight into my work philosophy and a bit about my methods: