Shop Log

The Furniture Society Conference

Leslie and I attended the Furniture Society Conference in Philadelphia, June 23-25, 2016. We joined the Furniture Society 10 or 12, or more, years ago when it was new. We remained members for several years, although not active ones. It seemed that we didn’t fit very well and we dropped out. This year, we re-joined and attended the annual conference.

The theme of the conference was “Craft-Facturing.” I had never heard the term but knew what it meant for it is what we do. We apply the efficiencies of manufacturing to the craft of furniture making. I asked if I could speak on what I have learned of this. The conference committee said yes, and I spoke.

No one walked out.

Gary speaking at the Furniture Society

The members of the Furniture Society who make furniture tend to make “one of a kind” or bespoke furniture. Their furniture often emphasizes the art over the function. Some members collect, sell, or curate such furniture. Some members are teachers of woodworking and decorative arts. Some are students. Few “craft-facture” a product and build a business of it.

Wendell Castle spoke to the entire group. I took notes, for he was eloquent and I search for terms and phrases to describe what we do, why it is worthy, and how it feels to do it. This is one phrase I noted: “Share everything you know.”

Gary and Wendell Castle at the Furniture Society Conference

I tried to share some of what I know about earning a good living making furniture to those who chose to attend my talk–one of five options at that time. I hope it was of benefit.

Our stay in Philadelphia was a pleasure. We made some friends, we walked the streets of Ben Franklin, we stood in the buildings where the nation’s founding documents were signed, we sat in Christ Church and looked out 300-year-old glass at the tops of big trees, bells rang… It was a trip to elevate craftsmanship and citizenship and allegiance.

Gary and acquaintance at the Furniture Society Conference