quick trip through New England

Time quickly got away from me, but I figure to add a piece about our trip north before the memories completely slip away. Maine seems to beckon us back every so often and we made a visit in early October. It was the natural beauty that originally pulled us up to Maine to live and we were able to experience that again during peak autumn colors. We chased crabs and searched for sea glass, flipping every rock possible along the way to find what might be living underneath.

Woodworking wise, I’ve developed a few favorite places up that way and had the good fortune to visit while on the trip. The first was the Hulls Cove Tool Barn, on Mount Desert Island near Bar Harbor, ME. One of three used-tool locations operated by Skip Brack (the most famous probably being Liberty Tools), the Hulls Cove spot is filled with hammers, chisels, wooden planes, and other user tools – most of the woodworking variety. This time through I came upon an axe and steel wedges. I always leave with something, usually not the tool I was looking for when entering the building. Part of the thrill is in the hunt. It’s not only tools at Hulls Cove, Skip’s also curates a sculpture garden across the way from his property.

We hoped to visit Bill Coperthwaite’s property in Down East, ME, but things didn’t line up for that piece of the trip. Maybe next time. Bill was an inspiration and a beacon for many in the woodworking community. I didn’t know Bill. I know of him through his writings and through the stories shared by others. And I think of him anytime I come upon a tapered-wall yurt. Lately I’ve been thinking on Bill’s use of folk craft to draw communities together. With much of industrial woodworking being a individual pursuit, can hand work, or sloyd, be used to build up craft communities? I apprecitate how Bill examined all aspects of life and lived in accordance to his values. I’m just starting down this thought rabbit-hole.

The trip back south towards Berea provided the opportunity to visit the Lie Neilsen facility, the Center for Furniture Craftsmaship’s Messler Gallery (and the Contemporary Green Wood show) and North Bennet Street School – my alma mater. Though it’s now in the new (and better) building, the furniture program at NBSS still has the same life and spirit to it that I recognized from the old place. Dan, Steve and Lance are still sharing knowledge to eager and engaged benchmates. I took a couple pictures while at NBSS, though nothing from any of the student benches, partially out of awkwardness, as I was an unknown and odd visitor to these students – wandering the shop floor that was once familiar to me. The work is always top-knotch, and this visit was no exception. Lots of good jazz happening in that place.

Next adventure: a short trip into Eastern Kentucky (near Martin, specifically) to spend a couple of days with a ladder back chairmaker. I’m both excited and slightly terrified (the chairmaker made a joke about feeding me to pigs – please be a joke). Old-time chair making, with someone who’s spent their life at it, in the mountains of eastern KY. Can’t wait to get into it.

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