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October 21, 2008

Historic Trades artisans create 18th-century bedroom furniture for 11th annual CW Woodworking Conference

Bedroom furniture headlines the 11th annual “Working Wood in the 18th Century” conferences, presented by Colonial Williamsburg and Fine Woodworking magazine, Jan. 7-10 and 11-14, 2009.

Fourth-generation cabinetmaker Mack Headley, master of the Anthony Hay Cabinetmaking Shop in the Historic Area, and the Historic Trades cabinetmaking staff will present the design and construction of two mid-18th-century bedsteads — one a high-post, the other a low-post — and a mahogany child’s cradle. While the focus is on the woodwork, bed hangings — many cleverly engineered — and other textiles make bedroom furniture complete. Curators and conservators demonstrate how to “dress” the reproductions produced in the cabinet shop.

The woodworking symposium makes its initial exploration of formal, high-style Federal case furniture as noted educator and craftsman Steve Latta of Thaddeus Stevens College, Lancaster, Pa., presents “Making a Federal Lady’s Dressing Table,” detailing the construction and decoration of case furniture in the style of Portsmouth, N.H.

Colonial Williamsburg Historic Trades cabinetmakers also will demonstrate the creation of several looking glasses — mirrors — including joinery and gilding techniques that apply equally to picture frame production.

All symposium demonstrations focus on period methods of workmanship with close-up video monitoring of the processes in detail. Presentations by Historic Trades craftsmen include:

  • Master cabinetmaker Mack Headley presents “Decorating the High-Post Bed: Balusters, Carving, Reeding and Fluting” and “Carving, Joining and Gilding Looking Glass Frames,”
  • Journeyman cabinetmaker Kaare Loftheim presents “Making a Cabriole-Leg, Low-post Bedstead,”
  • Headley and Loftheim collaborate to present “Joining the Low-Post Bedstead,”
  • Apprentice cabinetmaker Bill Pavlak presents “Making a Mahogany Child’s Cradle,”
  • Apprentice cabinetmaker Brian Weldy presents “Making a Looking Glass and a Dressing Glass,” and
  • Journeyman founders Susie Dye, Roger Hohensee and Michael Noftsger present “Casting Brass Hardware for Beds.”

    The Woodworking symposium features presentations by Colonial Williamsburg curators and conservators:

  • “Good Night, Sleep Tight: Furnishing an 18th-century Bedchamber” is presented by Tara Chicirda, curator of furniture, and
  • Associate textiles curator Kimberly Smith Ivey, furniture conservator Christopher Swan and textile refurnisher Beth Gerhold collaborate on “A Room In Itself: Textiles for the Bedstead, 1730-1830.”

    Optional spouse tours and tickets to an opening reception and a banquet are available for symposium non-participants. Advance registration and payment of $295 per participant is required. Registration includes all presentations, an opening reception, three continental breakfasts, five breaks, a group reception and banquet, and a Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket valid for the conference duration. Special lodging rates are available for “Working Wood in the 18th Century” attendees. For more information, telephone toll-free 1-800-603-0948 or visit

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Jim Bradley
    (757) 220-7281

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