Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Chevalet Pandemic

Suspected Source of Infection

My dictionary defines "pandemic" as "occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population."

Here are some facts about this particular infection:

I discovered the tool through "pre industrial espionage" in 1976 and built my first tool soon after.

The first time the "chevalet de marqueterie" was published in English was in 1989, when Taunton press issued Pierre Ramond's book, "Marquetry" including blueprints.  Soon after, he published the three volume edition, "Masterpieces of Marquetry" which was eventually translated into English by the Getty museum.  In volume II, he honored me with a photograph and copy which said "The perpetual transfer of techniques between continents can be illustrated by Patrick Edwards' equipment."

I feel responsible, in some way I suppose, for introducing the "chevalet" to North America.  I had a two year contract with the Timken museum, with sponsorship from the NEA, to create a didactic marquetry workshop in the lobby and demonstrate to the public how this tool was used.  We also produced a short PBS video, "France in the 18th century: the Age of Elegance" which was nominated for an Emmy.  (We didn't win, but as they always say, its an honor to be nominated.)

Then, a decade later, I sat on stage in front of the SAPFM audience at Williamsburg and introduced it to a large group of woodworkers.  I still remember the look on their faces.

For three years after that I demonstrated twice a week in the Getty museum, with both the chevalet and a picking machine.  I was informed that I had an average of 120 people during each of my 2 hour lectures.  They monitor these things, I found out.

Then Roy invited me to be on his show, which was for me like dying and going to heaven.  I don't know what his audience is in numbers, but they must be the most interesting woodworkers in America. He has established "The Woodwright's Shop" as the longest running "how to do it" show on television.

During this entire time, I was teaching students at ASFM and selling kits with plans. I have exported my kits to Belgium, England, Australia, the Philippines, and several other countries.

Today I sat down in front of my computer and Googled the term "chevalet de marquetrie" then clicked on "images" and was amazed.

Try it.  See for yourself.  Take a few minutes and see how fast good ideas can spread.

PS:  If you are already infected and one of these tools sits in your shop, let me know.  Send photos and I will post them so others can be warned!  By the way, there is no known cure...


Anonymous said...


If you read the book of Exodus, you'll find that the pharoah was plagued by chevalets just after frogs, lice and locusts.

Is this a sign of the apocalypse?


shipwright said...

That's amazing. When I built my first one I searched google images and all I could find was three photos of Yannick Chastang's chevalet. That was only three years ago. BTW if you are wondering why there are pictures of a sailboat among the chevys check out this blog entry
You done good!

W. Patrick Edwards said...

I don't know about the apocalypse, but here in California we are all waiting for hell to freeze over. We would settle for a cup of rain at this point.

I also want to credit Paul (who is an amazing shipwright!) for being a transmitter of this infection. When he created the Chevy Clubhouse thread on Lumberjocks, he hit the sweet spot. I might have infected a few minds with certain ideas, but Paul made it possible for the "secondary market" to get involved in this movement.

From little seeds grow giant forests!

Renewable Community Power said...

I know there's an ongoing desire to come up with a better translation for chevalet than 'donkey'; regardless of whether anything comes of that, could all users of chevalets at least be known as chevaliers?

W. Patrick Edwards said...

In fact, I have great respect for my peers. Silas Kopf, Paul Schurch and I have each created successful careers in this business. I would expect that, after all these years, we could be considered "The Three Marqueteers."