Thursday, September 20, 2007

Winterthur Museum

My partner and I, along with our friend, Scott, toured the Winterthur Museum in Delaware yesterday.

It was a tour sponsored by Olde Mill Cabinet Shoppe and featured a 2 hour lecture by Charles Hummel, a noted curator at the museum, expert on 18th c. furniture, and author of "With Hammer in Hand". The lecture was on 18th c. card tables and secretaries. Knowing nothing about this type of furniture or anything Chippendale and Queen Anne, I noted several terms of which I was not familiar: slip-tongued (another term for tongue and groove), turret-type corners, hairy ball & claw feet, Quaker lock (a simple, but ingenious wood "lock" located beneath drawer bottoms), broken pitch pediment, broken arch pediment, gadroon (a band of carved molding), and sebeku (the spelling is incorrect, but it is East African Mahogany). Following are photos of furniture similar to what we saw at the museum (I did not make this secretary):

I'm not a big fan of this type of furniture, but have enormous respect for the hours of work and talent that went into its construction.

After lunch we were taken in groups of 5 on a tour of the period rooms. More Chippendale and Queen Anne chairs, tables, and secretaries, and then one of the reasons I went on the tour....PA German furniture! I love the simple and sometimes crude joinery, the earthiness and imperfections, and the obvious marks of the craftsman. Tusk tenons, wedged dovetails, thick, heavy walnut and pine boards, and folksy painted surfaces are all things that I find inspirational. (I didn't make these, either):

The other reason I went on the tour was the promised behind-the-scenes inspection of the Dominy workshop. Crowded in the small shop with 12 other antique tool lovers, I saw up close some wonderful bench planes, a wooden saw set, 2 lathes, user-made frame saws and a user-made band saw (that worked off the pole lathe), molding planes, whale bone spokeshaves, and various jigs. One jointer plane, which was about 2' long, was in such good condition it was impossible to believe it was over 200 years old.