The Woodworking Life

The Woodworking Life

Williamsburg Sketchbook 2009, Part 2

comments (2) February 20th, 2009 in blogs

JimMcGlothlin James McGlothlin, contributor
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This is the second entry of a two-part blog post. Click here to see the first.



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That afternoon, Bill Pavlak continued his work on the child’s cradle. Bill showed slides of a 6’ long adult’s “senility cradle” which had been made for the same customer as the child’s cradle- though many years later of course. I’m thinking about making one now in preparation for my Depends years.


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Later,  Kaare Loftheim sent more chips flying from his cabriole leg and Brian Weldy continued work on the lady’s dressing mirror.


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Mack Headley, master of the Hay’s Cabinet Shop showed several beds and bedposts, typical of the period and demonstrated a method for carving the posts.

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The following morning, Mack demonstrated the traditional method for gilding an ornately carved frame. The carving is smoothed, then a coat (or coats) of gesso is applied, smoothed and this is followed by a clay based “paint”. The gilding is delicately applied to this base with a gilder’s brush, then burnished.


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Kaare Loftheim continued carving the foot of the cabriole leg with quick, sure cuts. His experience and confidence make it look easy.


Next, Kaare showed how he cut and joined the headboard, legs and rails for the bed, with special emphasis on placing the nuts and bed bolts.


Mack Headley began the afternoon session with a description of the fittings for a typical 18th Century bed, the different methods of supporting the “bed” (mattress) and the cost discrepancies of bed fittings vs. the cost of the bed’s wood framework. Now I understand the historical basis of interior decorators being paid more than cabinetmakers.


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The conference concluded with a surprisingly interesting demonstration (I say this because we’re woodworkers and this pertained to, uhhhh fabric) of fitting out a typical 18th Century bed by Christopher Swan, furniture conservator at Colonial Williamsburg, Tara Gleason Chicirda, curator of furniture, Colonial Williamsburg, Beth Gerhold, textile refurnisher, Colonial Williamsburg and Kimberley Smith Ivey, associate curator of textiles. The hangings were hand sewn by Beth Gerhold for this demonstration on a half-scale bed- a pretty amazing feat.


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Jim McGlothlin is an architect in Malibu, California, is owner of Jimbo’s Mediocre Woodworking and has contributed “Constructing the Red and Blue Chair” and “Williamsburg Sketchbook (2007)” to the Fine Woodworking website.








posted in: blogs, table, carving, mahogany, federal, bed, mirror, beading

Comments (2)

jimfallonct jimfallonct writes: Really appreciate you sharing so that those of us who weren't able to be there could at least see second hand some of the insightful things that were discussed. Looks like it was a great event!
Posted: 4:09 pm on January 19th

Jimx Jimx writes: Great contribution. I was not at the conference but I feel that I learned a lot just from the sketches. I wish I had the drawing skills to capture this type of information.
Posted: 6:13 am on February 25th

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