It’s a bit embarrassing writing with the realization that we have been silent for so long. The last post was about the next symposium. This will be about the same symposium, but we’ll have to call it the last symposium now.
We think it went pretty well, or at least we enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot and hope all of our attendees did as well. Conferences such as this are made possible by the work of many people within Colonial Williamsburg and we are, as always, grateful to them. Ron Hurst, Vice President of Collections, concluded our opening night’s program with a eulogy in honor of Jay Gaynor, the founder and now guiding spirit, of these annual gatherings. He highlighted Jay’s commitment to good scholarship, good work, and good humor, which are the same qualities we strive to impart in our presentations. Sometimes we get it right and other times…
By covering a fairly broad topic like desks, we were able to span the entire eighteenth century in terms of style and construction. It is easy for woodworkers and writers to treat the eighteenth century as a single moment in time, a time in which people worked with hand tools, built great furniture, and dressed funny. Our aim was to juxtapose pieces and presentations to reveal substantial changes and surprising similarities in workmanship, design, and technique among early, middle, and late century pieces. Handwork was different in 1707 (the date of our earliest piece) from what it would become ninety years later (roughly the time when the Seymours built the latest piece we explored). This, in turn, is different from how many people approach hand tool woodworking today. Changes in time and place, changes from one craftperson’s perspective to another’s, these are the things we hope to bring out as we move through these conferences. To that end, we all learn a lot from the insights of our audience. Insights that support, contradict, or challenge our assertions are precisely what make these symposia a valuable experience. All of us in the Hay shop are grateful for all who attended and were willing to get down and dig through the arts and mysteries of eighteenth century work with us.
For those of you who have never been to one of these, here is a small sampling of what came to pass over our two sessions of this year’s conference. We look forward to seeing you next year!
Look for more active blogging in the coming year and the launch of our Facebook page in the coming days (we are only several years behind on that one).
Here’s to a new year of woodworking!
The Hay Shop.