A Historic Vacation

One of the highlights of our recent vacation to New England was a trip to Plimoth Plantation.  Costumed interpreters and authentic surroundings make you feel as if you are a visitor from another time who has returned to the 17th century.

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It’s a little unnerving, at first, when you ask one of the interpreters a question about Pilgrim life and they respond in 17th century English.  I asked the lady on the left if they had learned any Dutch during their 12 year sojourn in Holland and she immediately answered me in that tongue.  These folks are good, very good.  So good, that I wondered if they ever came out of character?

I imagine that anyone reading this blog is already familiar with the work of Peter Follansbee.  Peter is the joiner at Plimoth Plantation.  He is a widely recognized expert on furniture of the 17th century and historic woodworking methods.  There’s every likelihood that you’ve seen Peter on Roy Underhill’s program, The Woodwright’s Shop or at events like Woodworking in America.  His responsibilities include maintenance of the furniture collection and the construction of new “old” furniture for the exhibits.  But Peter spends most of his time in his shop in the Craft Center demonstrating 17th century joinery methods.

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I’ve been a great fan of Peter’s work for a long time.  The beauty and historic accuracy of his work cannot be overstated.

But when you see the dower chests, court cupboards, chairs, stools, formes, tables and cradles in a true 17th century setting, the work takes on even greater impact.  It’s not hard to see why the joiner was an important man in any community.

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Late in the day, I found Peter at work in his shop and had the opportunity to chat with him about historic woodworking, blogging, et cetera.  He is a friendly, engaging and “down to earth” fellow.  (Even after a days’ worth of answering questions, many of which must surely be asked time, after time, after time.)  The visit was entirely too short.

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I encourage everyone within earshot (more correctly, “blogshot”) to visit Plimoth Plantation and watch Peter at work.  But more importantly, I think that everyone needs to keep up with Peter’s blog.  He shares an incredible amount of information about historic woodworking including 17th century carving practices.  Peter Follansbee is in a league of his own.

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