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SAPFM 2014 Mid year Conference Presentations


Steve Latta:  Card Table Construction and Ornamentation Techniques 

No other furniture form best exemplifies the federal period than the card table and of that genre, the demilune is perhaps the most widely known and respected.   Of the many urban centers producing these elegant tables that stood as a blatant demonstration of wealth, Baltimore stood at the fore front.  During its heyday at the dawn of the 19th century, Baltimore was filled with cabinetmakers and the related specialists including carvers, inlayer, gilders, turners to name but few.

Steve will cover several of the nuances in constructing a Baltimore card table, including the knuckle joint for the fly rail, a bridled-dovetail for mounting the front legs, bricklaid cores and the related veneer work.  Additionally, he will touch upon various methods of ornamentation, including stringing, bellflowers and paterae.


 Steve Brown:  A Comparison of Dressing Table Construction Techniques

Drawing from extensive study of the dressing table form, Steve illustrates techniques and steps used to construct the form, using pictures, models, and bench demonstrations. The presentation will provide an increased understanding of how hand-tool techniques are used in the context of needing to make a living.

The two main tables Steve will focus on are a Frothingham piece from the Winterthur collection, and a piece featured in Brock Jobe’s Harbor & Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710-1850. The second piece is considered by Brock to be perhaps the finest example of the Boston Queen Anne dressing tables.

Fallon Wilkinson 

Tad Fallon:  Methods and Materials for Toning and Patina: Blending New Repairs to Old Work and Finishing Reproductions

As a conservator specializing in the treatment and research of both clear and opaque coatings on furniture and wooden artifacts, Tad Fallon of the firm Fallon & Wilkinson (seen here on the left) is often confronted with the task of blending in well executed wooden repairs that are adjacent to old “original” or historically important presentation surfaces.

Patination is one of the more challenging things do when creating an authentic looking antique finish. There are a wide range of materials and techniques that can be utilized to create this patina of age on repairs or new reproduction pieces. The best work is subtle, appears natural and avoids looking contrived.

Another application of these materials and techniques is the finishing of newly fabricated pieces that may need to blend in with an existing set or collection, as was the case with the work Fallon & Wilkinson did reproducing 28 pieces of Federal Furniture for the Hamilton Grange National Memorial, a National Park service site in New York City that preserves the relocated home of U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

The lecture will begin with a short 15-20 minute PowerPoint demonstration, and the balance of the lecture will be in the form of a hands-on demonstration, where samples will be fabricated and manipulated for the viewing audience.

 During the demonstration the range of materials will be discussed and demonstrated, including the use of inorganic chemical reagents, shellacs, pigments, dyes, water colors, glues, gums, acids, bleach, airbrush and other tips for successful toning and patination.


Robert Mussey:  Boston's Classical Furniture by Isaac Vose, 1810-1825. . . .and others to be named.

Isaac Vose produced some of the greatest furniture ever made in Boston in any period, yet hardly anyone knows about his work and that of his journeyman and subcontract craftsmen. Robert's presentation  will focus in large part on his spectacular veneer work, impeccable construction, and use of imported materials. The lecture will present biographical details of Vose's life, and his successful diversification into mahogany import and sales, real estate development, importation of English and French hardware and furniture, fancy painted chair manufacture, and luxury upholstery.

Vose was increasingly successful as a craftsman-businessman in large part because he increasingly hired talented immigrant craftsmen, both British and French -- cabinetmakers, upholsterers and carvers. Who were these men?  To be named -- come to the lecture and find out the surprising answers.

The period right after Vose's death saw the introduction of machinery into furniture manufacture, so his was among the last shops in Boston to produce 100% hand-crafted furniture. There will be a brief discussion of the early introduction of certain types of machinery into Boston furniture making.


Peter Follansbee:  A 17th Century Joiner

For the past 25 years, Follansbee’s focus has been studying the early history of New England’s furniture. In this presentation, Peter  uses artifacts and documents to delve into the craft of the joiner in 17th-century New England. 

There will be an examination of period examples from public and private collections, with emphasis on both the structural and decorative aspects. There will also be a discussion of 17th-century hand tools.

A live demonstration will include the preparation of oak stock by hand (riving), and 17th-cnetury joinery and carving techniques.