Saturday, October 10, 2009

Peter Follansbee

The biggest highlight for me at the WIA conference was meeting Peter Follansbee, maker of authentic reproduction 17th c. English and New England, highly carved furniture. Peter works at Plimoth Plantation building pieces to outfit the homes at the museum.

Peter lays out patterns with a compass, frame square, miter square, and awl (no pencils!). Some design elements are carved freehand, and background fields are carved with gouges and left faceted.

Imperfections are found in original pieces, so Peter allows them to remain in his work as well, explaining that our brains overlook discrepencies when viewing repeating patterns. Hence, Peter's work has a true old world appearance and charm.

I made a video which shows close ups and far away shots so you can see how he holds the carving tools. Notice that to make a shallower cut with the V-tool, he tips the handle down a bit. The handle is tipped up for a deeper cut. Too steep and the gouge will dig into the wood; too shallow, and the gouge will just skip off the workpiece.

Peter works mainly with red oak and chooses wood with tight grain. If the growth rings are too wide, the grain pattern is too distracting.

The photo with the block of wood shows cut marks for the gouges and V-tool that Peter uses in case you'd like to try this type of carving.

Check out Peter's blog for a list of reference material for 17th c. furniture.

Watch the video in high definition here.