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The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia recently remodeled its upholstery shop. Random Woodworks, a local company owned by Luke Cabanel, and his friend Bob Longstreet, were commissioned to make some furniture for the interactive exhibit. Visitors to the house will find Betsy Ross working in her shop as she did more than 200 years ago. She could be sitting in a Philadelphia style comb back Windsor chair, possibly propping her feet up on a simple stool or looking for some goods in colonial style shelves all made by the pair. To further the collection in the exhibit, they will be making a cutting table and a small toolbox similar to those used at the time.
The Windsor chair made by Random Woodworks was made using traditional methods, starting with a red oak log. Cabanel carved out parts from the log and later steam bent them for the back, bow and crest. The spindles were made with a drawknife and spokeshave. The legs and stretchers were turned on a lathe and the seat and crest were carved by hand. Finally the chair was finished with traditional milkpaint.
The interactive exhibit at the Betsy Ross House sounds like fun. You not only get to see Betsy at work in her upholstery shop but you can ask her questions and learn more about the history of the time. And you get to see some fine furniture at the same time. It seems to me that the Betsy Ross House is worth a visit the next time you’re in Philly.
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