“Design is always a challenge with a complicated form like a chair. When it works, you know it.” – Cabinetmaker, Chairwright Timothy Clark, Waltham VT
In his Addison county workshop, Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers member Tim Clark makes Windsor chairs. He makes them in the traditional way, working the components by hand to produce piece of heirloom quality furniture. As Clark developed his catalogue over the years, original Windsor designs benefited from his depth of concentration and experience. “About 10 years back,” he said, “I needed a side chair to go along with my more traditional looking line of Windsor chairs. And so the New Waltham chair was born, with its roots in 18th century style but with a modern essence more round and robust.
Clark replaced the shallow antique seat with a shape he describes as “part surfboard and part stealth fighter” with “graceful curves that echo nicely the curves of the crest rail.” Popular at once, the Waltham chair construction soon segued to a bench design. Below is a ‘naked’ and rather impressive shot of a five foot Waltham bench, with a thinner crest rail for a little extra refinement. A custom design for a client across the Lake, this bench would be eventually finished with layers of black milk paint and a coating of linseed oil, varnish and paste wax, giving the piece a nice warm resonance and richness.
And after the bench blueprint, came a rocker; with the breadth and graceful seat of the Waltham design, and elements borrowed from favorite period pieces. According to Tim, the Waltham Rocker’s got an 18th century leg shape and an arm rest inspired by an antique Sack Back Chair which resides in the Shelburne Museum collection. “A rocker is the top dog of chairs in my mind and this one [the Waltham] is just so raw and refined at the same time.”
Popular with collectors and designers alike, the rocking chair has been featured in Elle Décor and In Lark Books 2008 edition of 500 Chairs: Celebrating Traditional and Innovative Design. “Making a new one always brings be back to Williamsburg, VA where in 7th grade, I was first exposed to quality hand work when I saw wooden instrument makers, furniture makers and a man making cedar shingles on a shaving horse. The smells of the green wood, the hissing of hand planes and the thunking of chisels and mallets. I am a laborer at heart. I love the making.”
And it shows. So if these Waltham Chairs interest you, go ahead and get excited. They’re only made in one place—Tim’s Vermont shop. For more information about the making process and material selection, check out Tim’s Blog. Or cruise through his portfolio on our site which features chairs, benches, huntboards and other custom furniture pieces.
Remember, choose handmade for health, happiness and local prosperity. www.vermontfurnituremakers.com