Wilow Basketry

September 1 - 5 (1 opening)

June 16 - 27: Chairmaker’s University – Ladderback Chairmaking Revealed (2 openings)

The post-and-rung ladderback is our best introduction to the skills needed for any type of traditional chairmaking. The elegant ladderback has been described by woodworking author and editor John Kelsey as a “masterpiece of economy and simplicity, of comfort, strength and beauty.” When this style has two back slats it is sometimes called a “mule ear” chair.

The winter tutorials follow our classic 5-day format, going back to 1979. This is a very busy and challenging week, with some necessary “homework” after supper on most nights.

“Chairmaker’s University” is our new 10-day version of the ladderback class that we have wanted to offer for many years. The pace slows down so there is now time for covering aspects of chairmaking that are not included in the 5-day class. Some of the added activities include: a walk in the forest, where we identify and evaluate various potential trees with wood for chairmaking; an excursion to our local saw mill where we can look through a selection of logs for class use, chain our oak log onto the trailer, and haul it to the workshop; tool selection and sharpening; design concepts and practicalities; chairmaker’s wood technology (moisture content, etc.); vernacular chair history.

Chairmaker’s U Part one begins with a Welcome Supper on Sunday June 15 and closes after lunch on Friday June 20. Part B begins after our included breakfast on Monday June 23. The course ends with graduation and our a Farewell Lunch on Friday June 27.

During the mid-course weekend break class participants are welcome to stay (for no charge) in our accommodations, but we will not be serving meals until Monday morning. An alternative would be checking into one of the many possibilities around Asheville – a mountain campground, or even the Appalachian Trail. The Asheville area has numerous places to visit, scores of good restaurants, pubs and live music venues, plus mountain biking, white water rafting and much more.

The project work for both versions of the course begins with riving billets from a freshly felled, straight grain red oak log. Cylindrical wet/dry mortise and tenon joinery is explained in theory and then put to practical application. Class participants learn to shape their chair parts using a drawknife and spokeshave while seated at a shaving horse (or our “shaving mule”) and then steaming and bending the back posts, using bending forms. Tenons are formed at the ends of ‘bone dry’ rungs. Mortises (round for the rungs, and rectangular for the slats) are bored or chiseled in the air-dried posts.

After the chair frame is assembled, fresh greenwood backrest slats are rived and shaved, heated in boiling water, and then fit into slat mortises in the rear posts. Weaving a seat with colorful Shaker tape completes the chair.

Tuition for the 5-day winter tutorials (limited to 4 students) is $1225. Tuition for the 10-day Chairmaker’s University(also limited to 4 registered students) is $2125. For both formats tuition includes the use of specialized chairmaking tools, all necessary material s (for the chair frame and Shaker tape seating,) your private room accommodations and meals. And you will take home a handsome and comfortable heirloom chair.

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Drew Langsner
828-656-2280 (Daily, 9-6 Eastern time)

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