Friday, January 31, 2014

And The SAPFM 2014 Cartouche Award Goes To...

Micky Callahan and Steven Lash Founded SAPFM
I joined the Society of American Period Furniture Makers the first year they started, and am proud of my membership number 170, since they now have over a thousand members across the country.  I actively participated in each of their early conferences at Williamsburg and wrote articles for the first three issues of their Journal, which has become the premiere woodworking journal in the US.

Here is a short video which talks about SAPFM:  Society of American Period Furniture Makers

However, after several years traveling to Williamsburg in January, which included a blizzard that closed the colonial village down for several days, I got to the point where spending January in San Diego seemed a better idea than looking for snow.  That doesn't mean I lost interest in the activities of SAPFM.  I follow them on the web, talk to other members often, joined the new Southern California Chapter when it was organized last year, and always look forward to the Journal.

Outdoor Seating In Williamsburg
The conference in Williamsburg is held in two back to back sessions each January.  It is titled, "Working Wood in the 18th Century" and is a great opportunity to meet with other furniture makers and collectors, listen to informative presentations and attend the banquet where the winner of the Cartouche is announced.

The Cartouche is a very significant award, but, here in Southern California, not many people understand what it means.  I usually tell them it is like an Academy Award, since it is voted on by members of a group to recognize the achievements of another member of that same group.  In other words it is an award of your peers, for lifetime achievement in a particular skill.  You must be nominated and then a jury evaluates your efforts in various fields, like teaching, awards, creations, publications, lectures, etc.  I am the first person West of the Mississippi to receive it.

Past winners have been craftsmen who made American period furniture, and all of these live on the East Coast.  They include:

2013 Will Neptune
2012  Allan Breed
2011  Benjamin C. Hobbs
2010  Steven Lash
2009  Dennis Bork
2008  Alfred Sharp
2007  North Bennet Street School
2006  Fred Stanley
2005  Phil Lowe
2004  Mack Headley
2003  Gene Landon
2002  Robert Whitley
2001  John McAlister
2000  Harold Ionson

A few of these are no longer with us, but all of them are outstanding in their field, and I have been fortunate to have met all of them at one time or another.  It is a great group of talent.

In looking at the winners and their work, I never considered for a moment that I might be eligible for such an honor.  After all, I am an American who makes period furniture, but my furniture for the most part is European in style.  All of the forms which I make date from 1680 to 1840 and are completely hand made.  They are just not American.  Generally, I prefer English, Dutch, German and French.

So it was a complete shock when I was contacted late last year and told that I had won the Cartouche and should return to Williamsburg to attend the Banquet.  Wow!

Of course, watching the weather during January was discouraging.  Something about an Arctic Vortex?  All I could see on the news was "Freezing Cold!" "Dangerous Travel Conditions" "Stay Home!"

When I landed in Chicago for the transfer, it was 20 below zero and our flight out was cancelled.  We were very fortunate to find another plane which was just departing, although we sat on the runway for over an hour while they figured out how to de ice the plane.  Landing in Richmond, we got a car and made it to Williamsburg for the last 5 minutes of registration.  Then to bed at the Lodge.

Period Furniture Demonstration
The next day I attended the conference lectures and that night got ready for the dinner.  I had brought my suit and grabbed a fresh white shirt from the cleaners which was still in the plastic bag.  What I forgot was that I remove the shirt collar plastic stays for the cleaners, and I did not put them back.  During my talk, as I warmed up, my collars went from straight down to curled up, like the hat on the Flying Nun.  I had no idea why my wife, Kristen, was making those funny hand gestures from the table in the front of the podium until after the talk was over.

I can remember hundreds of lectures I have given over the years, both to large and small audiences.  I have never had the sensation of a packed room of perhaps 200 people rising as one and giving me a standing ovation.  I don't have words to express how that felt.  Holding the Cartouche Award and hearing the congratulations of the other furniture makers is indeed a special feeling.  It was also personally significant, as I have never before made a Power Point presentation of all my work.  With each new image, all I could think was, "I can't believe I made that!"  That thought was quickly followed by "How did I do it?"

Frank Klausz Teaching 9 year old Boy about Dovetails

The weather cleared up a bit on Sunday, and Kristen and I had a chance to wander around the village to see the homes, shops and take some tours.  We stopped in at the cabinet shop to talk with Brian and Bill, the two young cabinetmakers who were presenters at the conference.  They were putting their shop back together and getting back to work.  Since there were few tourists at that time of year, we had a good chance to talk for several hours.

Kristen and Bill in the Cabinet Shop
On Monday, we drove down to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to visit Roy Underhill.  He moved about 4 years ago from his home in Williamsburg and purchased a rustic mill house outside Chapel Hill, where he lives with his wife, Jane, and his dog.  It is a charming home, with a waterfall, and he teaches classes there in wild timber technology, for lack of a better term.  Essentially he cuts down trees and makes stuff using only his hands, his tools, and his brilliant mind.

Roy Is Always So Serious!
The next day, we drove to see his school, which is in a 1907 storefront in town.  It is a beautiful school room, and he teaches hand craft woodworking to a wide variety of students.  The cool thing is that he has an antique tool store on the second floor, and it is one of the most comprehensive collection of good woodworking tools I have seen in years.  The prices are right, and the tools are ready to go to work.  The owner of the store is Edward Lebetkin and you can reach him at

I left there with a nice boxwood plough.  Like I need another plough.  I can't help it.

You may have seen the news about Atlanta.  All day long on Monday and Tuesday there were weather reports about the storm, set to arrive that afternoon.  The low pressure system off the coast was full of water and the cold front coming down from the North was fast moving and really, really freezing.  Conclusion: Snowstorm in the South.

We raced up the freeway to get back to Richmond before the roads became impossible.  We were sitting in our nice hotel room watching the snow fall when we got the message that our plane had been cancelled the next morning.  They were working to reschedule us later in the day.

We were the first plane out of Richmond after they cleared the snow off the runway.

Back At The Shop With Cartouche
The older I get, the more I like the climate in San Diego.  Heartfelt thanks, SAPFM!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations WPatrickEdwards! You're an inspiration to us all and you certainly deserve it.



Julien Lecomte said...

Félicitation, Patrick! Much deserved indeed!

Freddy said...


Congrats!!!! I don't know anyone more deserving then you. Cheers,


Chuck said...

Hearty Congratulations Patrick, on being selected for the Cartouche Award by SAPFM. Your talents and skills are evident no matter what type of piece you would make. Your establishing the American School of French Marquetry was an important event in promoting quality and artistic work. I can recall vividly and with pleasure the time I spent there and thank you for sharing your expertise.

Chuck Walker

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I believe the award was well merited. I have long admired your work. Thank God for such wonderful talent and dedication.


W. Patrick Edwards said...

Thank you all!

As I walked around Williamsburg the days following the award, I was approached by several other woodworkers who wanted to compliment me. Over and over, they all said the same thing, "Your work is intimidating!"

Each time I reassured them that being intimidating was not my intention. I suggested that hearing a musician perform a complicated piece of music well might be intimidating to someone who doesn't understand music. However, if you study the process involved and practice, it is not that much of a mystery. Of course, a certain amount of talent is involved, but the actual skill is learned.

Marquetry is like that. The French process is so well developed that the results are guaranteed. At the school in Paris, I started with simple etudes, gradually working up in difficulty over the years. This type of practice made it possible to execute very complicated designs with confidence.

What's intimidating to me is free falling from a balloon floating 24 miles above earth. How do you practice for that?

shipwright said...

You have every right to bask in this moment Patrick. You have most certainly earned it. Congratulations and thank you for taking the time to teach and share some of your knowledge with us all.

Unknown said...

Congratulations Patrick, You seem very humble from what I've read but we all now how well deserving you are. Glad you made it out of the frozen south safe and sound!

Mat Nedeljko said...

Patrick, congratulations again on winning the Cartouche, and even though you are very modest, the award is extremely well deserved. Thank you for everything you have done to further the understanding of Marquetry here in North America and for taking us on as students at ASFM. The time spent with you will always be fondly remembered, especially every time time I sit down on the chevalet!

Renewable Community Power said...

So well deserved - congrats from Australia!

Marin Smith said...

Hello, first of all I want to Congratulate to Patrick Sir for being selected for the Cartouche Award by SAPFM. Really you have done great job. Your furniture is so well furnished that is really looking so good that cannot be expressed in words. Now-a-days people are searching these kinds of chairs tables and furniture’s for their homes and offices. Even people don’t have any time to visit the market for shopping that’s why they are looking for online shopping. I am going to decorate my room like you and I ll order these high end sophisticated bars from a good place through online.

Paul Kirchner said...

As others have said, well deserved and congratulations. You have furthered the field.