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A Son’s Perspective of a Father’s Craft

By  William Morris

For children, grandparents are almost magical beings. They carry that aged charm which comes from years of living. Captured in story form, they hold their grandchildren spell-bound by the tales of their long life. As for my Grandparents, they loved to regale we grandchildren of our parent’s childhood events. Oh how they would make themselves laugh with the memories of the growing-up years. As a college freshman I had the privilege of living with my Father’s parents. It was during this period that I learned much of my Dad’s formative years from the careful observation of his parents. By their accounts he was a special boy, of course they said that of all three of their children, but my Father had a knack for making things. It was natural to him. It was this gift, and a tenacious desire for perfectionism, that drives my Father to a level of craft I believe few have been able to achieve.

 

Born in Chester County Pennsylvania, and raised in Lancaster County since the age of seven, my Father was very familiar with rich cultural heritage existing in that region. Captivated by the farms and old stone houses of that area, it is little wonder that Dad's love for traditional craft came to fruition. As a descendent from an old Pennsylvanian Quaker family the furniture he now creates is as much about preserving our heritage as it is about craft. Needless to say getting it right is of the utmost importance.

Armed with an industrial arts degree form Millersville University, Dad, worked in several cabinet shops just after college in the Lancaster area, including Stephen Van Ormer’s shop in Strasburg. In the early 90’s Dad began his own business, relocating to Danville, PA. It is here that my Father refined his craft in a shop on our home property. I grew up watching my Dad work at home. While helping in the shop he would often give me advice like, “ today we are not building a chair, today we are making a rung,” as if to say slow down, focus, and enjoy the piece you are working on, it is as important as the completed project. I was captivated by the work and his attention to detail to this day I still don’t know how he does it.

Over time his craft has only improved. For nearly fifteen years my Father repaired some the finest antiques to come out of 18th Century America. His exposure to the best of the best enhanced his education for fine detail and accurate representation. Consequently, his work ranges from classically influenced Chippendale pieces to regional folk crafts such as Pennsylvania German painted chests. All of which have been meticulously detailed to best represent their original inspirations.

It has been an absolute joy growing up in this environment. I have learned much, and now as a college graduate pursing a career in architecture I can say that watching my Dad at work has given me a love for fine craftsmanship and good design. Although I still think of my grandparents as magical, I am held in wonder and delight by the craft of my Father as artisan master.