Sunday, February 3, 2008

Landis Valley Museum

Yesterday, we toured the Landis Valley Museum, a living history museum showcasing PA German rural life, which includes historic buildings, demonstrations, workshops, and collections of early farm, craft and household objects.

German-speaking immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th—19th centuries were self-sufficient tradesmen and farmers. We still see their influence today in Pennsylvania bank barns, so called because they were built into a bank or hillside that allowed wagons and large equipment to enter at the second floor. PA Germans designed the Pennsylvania long rifle and the Conestoga wagon, and brought with them craftmaking skills in redware (pottery), fraktur and scherenschnitt, and traditions that have become part of mainstream American culture—the Easter rabbit, decorated Easter egg, and Christmas tree.

Although the museum is very interesting, my main purpose for the tour was to take a few photos of a particular piece of furniture. 130 photos later, I believe I can build a reasonable facsimile of this piece, even though I could only get as close to it as the wall of glass would allow. I hope the curator doesn't mind a few noseprints.

Believed to have been built in 1750, although the date 1805 is carved into the drawer front, this sawbuck table's distinctively German feature is a top that can be lifted off by removing dowels so that it could be used elsewhere as a work surface. What also attracted me to this piece are the tusk tenon joinery and the baroque style of the legs.

In my shop, a huge plank of 12/4 cherry is anxiously waiting to be transformed into a little PA German sawbuck table.

Sawbuck Table photo is from Pennsylvania German Arts, by Irwin Richman.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... I WANT that mustard barn, VC!

You must have had a wonderful day, and tour. The saw buck table is terrific; the nose prints on the glass just add to a wonderful description of the place :)

How soon could we see that cherry being cut and made into this project? I love it!

Kari Hultman said...

That barn is pretty sweet. They actually rent it out and it is decorated inside (though still rustic) with white lights everywhere.

I hope I can start the table soon!

Frontier Carpenter said...

Should be a neat project and will go great under your cupboard

Kari Hultman said...

Ron, I think this will be a totally fun piece to build. I love the sliding dovetails that attach the top to the drawer supports.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the removvable table top was more for the ease in knocking the piece down for storage, and in the case of the larger tables that hav it for partially dismantling the piece to make it easier to move. (like a schrank)

Didn't know that the smaller tops were removed to work with elsewhere.

Very Cool. Love the work on the hanging cupboard too.

Al Rossi

Kari Hultman said...

Al, that was probably part of the design, too—the ease of taking it apart—since the Germans were so practical.

It was in the book I mentioned where I read that the tops were also used as removable work surfaces. It even said that that particular feature can be found in some Queen Anne-style pieces made by the German craftsmen for their wealthier German clientele. I'd like to see one of those pieces!