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Working Wood in the 18th Century
Session One

8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Open to Public
Advance Registration Required
Reservation RequiredAccessible

As work and other obligations allowed, 18th-century Americans sought leisure in any number of endeavors, both high and low.  Whether social in nature – entertainments like dance, sport, drinking, and gambling – or private – engaging intellectual curiosities or seeking rest – these activities were central to the overlapping cultures of early America.  For those who could afford it, these pursuits often led to the shops where woodworking artisans crafted the material culture of such pastimes.  The 2016 symposium will focus on objects born of this interaction. Card tables were among the more conspicuous examples of leisure furniture. Our featured guest, cabinetmaker Alfred Sharp, will demonstrate the work involved in a finely carved example from Philadelphia. The original table, part of Colonial Williamsburg’s collection, will be on stage beside him.  In fact, most of our program will feature people and objects from the Foundation.  This year we are excited to feature two major forms for the first time: an upholstered easy chair attributed to the Williamsburg shop of Anthony Hay, reproduced by cabinet shop supervisor Kaare Loftheim with upholstery conservator Leroy Graves; and a free-standing architectural structure, a gazebo, fabricated by joiner Ted Boscana.  Harpsichord maker Edward Wright will explore aspects of colonial musical life by demonstrating the materials and techniques used in the manufacture of a spinet, while cabinetmaker Bill Pavlak will build an adjustable music stand with tripod base. For a completely different woodworking perspective, cooper Jonathan Hallman will construct a coopered mahogany wine cooler which will contrast with the approach to the same form demonstrated by cabinetmaker Brian Weldy.    Several curatorial presentations round out the offerings: a glimpse into the anatomy of an 18th-century billiard table, a look at wooden toys from the collection with curator Jan Gilliam, and a study of gentlemen’s tools with independent tool historian Jane Rees.  Furniture curator Tara Chicirda will set the stage with an illustrated overview of the various pastimes and leisure activities that were popular in Colonial America along with the types of objects used in their pursuit.  All of our presenters will focus on period tools and methods while close-up video monitoring will show these processes and objects in great detail.  Once again, we will host a tool swap prior to the conference banquet as well as tours of our modern conservation labs, open to a limited number of guests.     

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Upcoming Dates

8:30 am – 5:30 pm
8:30 am – 5:30 pm
8:30 am – 5:30 pm
8:30 am – 5:30 pm