t’s interesting how things impact certain aspects of your life. Twenty-six years ago my wife and I received the March/April 1984 issue of Country Home magazine (pictured above with a price tag of $2.50). I was going through a primitive furniture phase in my woodworking and the country decorating craze was trendy. I would look through the pages of magazines for inspiration for furniture design. This issue in particular had a sizable impact on me.
It is funny to think back on how much I liked the beat up look of primitive furniture and some particularly worn antiques. There was also a furniture line available at the time in which they took great effort to make their new pieces look old; something that is still common today. I would repeatedly walk through a local furniture store and look at the "worn" new pieces from this line (no doubt the store owner wondered why I kept coming back to her store). This magazine featured the work of a particular furniture maker who did not reproduce antiques, but did make furniture with a period look.
A unique furniture designer
The cover of this magazine says, "True to tradition: The life and craft of a Virginia cabinetmaker." Inside was a feature article about the cabinetmaker, Peter Kramer. And the article featured not only his personal collection of hand made furniture, but also a tour through his unusual home - a collection of three log homes made into one. His home was interesting to me, but I really took up with his furniture and his unique eye for furniture design (I will use the word "unique" a lot in this post).
Peter’s pieces often utilized wide, knotty boards and would look right at home in a 200 year old farm house. In fact, Peter came up with a back in time imaginary community called Cloven Mill from the year 1709. He would often think of this fictional village, how the people would live and utilize furniture, and then design pieces (click photos for a larger view).
Cloven Mill. This tall chest contains a scratched drawing of Peter’s imaginary village of Cloven Mill. Note the aged look of the piece.
What I like most about the Peter's furniture, is that many of his pieces have a unique twist to them. In the tall chest above, there is a shallow plain drawer separated from the upper drawers by a protruding molding and the upper drawers feature Peter's scratch carving. Other examples of his work…
Scratch carved six board chest. Wide, distressed boards dovetailed together and decorated with floral motifs.
Nice pine. A farm table and hutch also made of wide pine planks. Note the pull-out bread board shelf on the hutch. The chairs are nice too.
Unique. A beautiful secretary and chair, and a rustic compact hutch. Note the nice turned legs on the secretary. The hutch has what is called a "donut gallery" and nice rat tail hinges.
Heartwood. Peter often used the heart of the tree as decoration. Note this on the door of this dictionary stand. Also unique are the cloverleaf hinges and the carving at the base.
In the dining room. Peter's dining room showcases more of his fine chair making as well as a table with a top made of a single board. The hutch has unique drop down extensions on each end.
Peter's furniture taught me to see how I could work unique features into my furniture designs. I still get this magazine out from time to time as I think about upcoming furniture projects.
Visit Peter Kramer's website by clicking here. Just as my furniture designs have evolved, so has Peter's. His work these days are much more modern and artistic in nature.
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