The 24th Annual Working Wood in the 18th Century: Welcome to Williamsburg!
January 20-23, 2022
After a year of strictly virtual gatherings, we’re pleased to welcome guests back to Williamsburg – in person or virtually – for an exploration of this city’s rich legacy of fine furniture, architectural woodwork, and craftsmanship. Whether immigrant or native-born, deeply rooted in the community or transient, Black or White, enslaved or free, Williamsburg’s craftspeople responded to ever-changing British fashions with techniques that run the gamut from idiosyncratic to conventional. Join our presenters as they explore the work and world of these many makers.
This year we welcome furniture maker and artist Aspen Golann, who will demonstrate the construction of a 1770s settee with a strong Williamsburg history. Aspen’s exploration will also include ideas on how an antique object can inspire contemporary designs that both celebrate and interrogate the past. The “plain and neat” elegance that characterizes the settee and much of Williamsburg’s fine furniture will also be on display as Colonial Williamsburg cabinetmakers John Peeler and Jeremy Tritchler delve into work from the 18th century shops established by Peter Scott and Anthony Hay. In highly ornamented contrast to this, master cabinetmaker Bill Pavlak will demonstrate some of the carving found on a series of ceremonial chairs made or used in Williamsburg with an eye toward how these designs inform more common furniture forms then and now.
No look at Williamsburg is complete without a careful consideration of its architectural riches. Master carpenter Garland Wood and crew will demonstrate Tidewater timber framing techniques. Meanwhile, supervising joiner Brian Weldy will join forces with Amy McAuley (preservation joiner/carpenter at Mount Vernon) for a detailed examination of circular windows. Moving further inside, Colonial Williamsburg joiners Peter Hudsonand Scott Krogh will create some of the moldings and trim work that adorn the city’s finer homes while conservator Chris Swan will share lessons learned through the conservation of architectural fragments.
Cabinetmakers, carpenters, and joiners all practiced their crafts with a mind on business and greater civic involvement. To this end, joiner Amanda Doggett will demonstrate the manufacture of a coffin – a seemingly ever-present task in period shops, carpenter Matt Sanbury will explore the buying and selling of tools in 18th century Williamsburg, and harpsichord-maker Edward Wright will detail the life of cabinetmaker-turned-soldier Edmund Dickinson who lost his life in the Revolution. We will also feature a series of presentations on many of the enslaved woodworkers whose contributions and skills have been long overlooked.
To open the conference, Tara Chicirda, curator of furniture, will introduce guests to 18thcentury Williamsburg’s furniture scene, its broader context, and the ever-changing nature of our understanding. Similarly, Garland Wood in his banquet talk, will reflect on his 40 years of discovery as a Historic Trades carpenter. We are also pleased to offer guests a robust line-up of unique pre-conference experiences.
Registration launching early this fall!
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