American Furniture - The Brandegee Blog

Ramblings on Crafting Useable Art (and other things that I find interesting)

American Furniture

Posted on August 2, 2013

Ada and I just returned from an antique show in a crossroads town named Oley near Reading, PA. Our primary purpose for the 3 plus hour drive from our Bedford County, PA log cabin was to entice some of the dealers to come by our Pittsburgh loft to buy some American 18th and 19th century furniture and folk art. We’ve been collecting a diverse lot of such for over forty years and our eventual mortality strikes fear into our two children who have escaped our addiction for it, don’t want it, and don’t want to deal with it after we croak. So we’re doing some deaccessioning.

We hope a couple of dealers will visit. We’re sure of at least one, from whom we bought an exciting piece of folk art (exciting at least to Ada and me). We actually arranged the purchase after we had lusted after it back at the cabin for more than 24 hours and phoned the dealer. He promises to come by to deliver it. Unfortunately for our selling campaign, that was not our only purchase. From the same dealer we had purchased a truly superb New England tea table, circa1760, in the kind of ancient worn paint finish that races both our engines.

It’s proportions, stance, balance are simply wonderful and once again remind me of the instinctive feel for design that seemed common across the population before the industrial revolution eroded it. Farmers away from urban centers and city cabinetmakers alike produced an enormous array of furniture forms that still look fresh and sometimes powerful two and three hundred years later.

My own furniture designs, incorporating antique beams, logs, barn siding, etc. in pieces are at home in many settings today, from antique to contemporary. I think I channel some of the lessons those long gone makers have conveyed through their often stunning survivors.

Here’s a console I recently produced. What do you think?

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