Recent interview with Popular Woodworking Magazine
My furniture and carving website
I grew up on a tree farm in Chester County, PA and served an apprenticeship in the shop of E. Townsend Moore in Darling, PA (near Media, PA). Moore was a curator at the 'Historic Wintertur Estate and Museum' outside Wilmington, Delaware. He was part of a 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, English Quakers, and Dutch settlers. Certain unique design features include use of line-and-berry holly inlay, paneled chests, and regional William & Mary period detail.
Except for painted pine pieces, Federal inlay, and my windsor chairs, I exclusively use the abundant traditional local hardwoods: cherry, maple, and walnut. The Philadelphia makers, a three hour ride by horse to the East, were producing some of the finest furniture in the colonies. That style has been another strong influence on my work, especially with highly carved rococo pieces.
I've been making and learning about period furniture for over 30 years. My pieces have been selected for museums and historic sites, including James Madison's Montpelior and Historic Jamestown. My work has been featured in Fine Woodworking , Popular Woodworking, and Woodwork Magazines and featured in exhibits from SanDiego, CA to Rockport, Maine. I have won numerous awards including the coveted international 'Veneer Challenge' in 2018. I am recognized as a leading authority on the 19th century carver, Edward Halley Bellamy, from Kittery, Maine. My traditional Bellamy eagles are carved, gold-leafed and painted entirely by hand and have sold throughout the world to collectors and museums.
I prefer to make 'historically informed' pieces. Unless requested by a museum, my furniture is not an exact reproduction, but will incorporate design motifs and joinery that is representative of 18th and 19th century furniture. My work is made using similar hand-cut joinery and detail, but each piece is my own design. Except for my museum & historic site reproductions where exact copies are desired, my furniture is one of kind, based on traditional design elements.
I like 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 with time one develops a trained eye. Craft is a combination of knowledge, skill and intuition all working together. It takes time and work to gain this, but it's fun. A passion for excellence and beauty is why I love to make furniture.
It can take months to make a piece, depending on the complexity, amount of carving, etc. I like to cut my dovetail and mortise & tenon joints cut by hand. In my opinion, the right look cannot be matched by machines. Surfaces are hand planed and hand scraped, resulting in subtle variations that reflect light which is so valued in the originals. This is labour intensive, but usually appreciated by discerning furniture lovers.
I use oils for most of my finishes. Linseed and other natural oils accentuate figured woods nicely. I often use pigment dyes and end with many thin coats of rubbed shellac or a silky thinned varnish for more protection on a table top. My goal is to maximize the natural character of the wood, create a hand-made texture and chatoyance, whilst avoiding the plastic look common to factory furniture.
Exhibitions: Messler Gallery juried exhibition, Rockport, Maine – 2017, 2018, Jan. -March 2020 current
‘Period Furniture Today’ exhibit, Old Sturbridge Village, MA - 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
Currently in process of expanding to numerous new galleries
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 American Master Craftsman’ in two categories: Carving and Furniture;
2018, 2019, 2020
Features: 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