Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wood samples and silver

This morning was our first day trip. I think was actually unexpected, but one of the retired professors from the U-Mass forestry school has worked with Historic Deerfield, and so invited us to his house to watch him strip a hickory log. It was very cool, actually. I kind of what to try it. After we got back to the classroom, we looked at different wood samples and studied the end grain. Based on how to the cellular walls of the interior (the tubes transferring fluids throughout the tree) developed and broke affects what grain is on the end. I still don't fully understand furniture, woodworking, or architecture, but parts are slowly starting to come together.

After lunch we got to see the silver collection the Historic Deerfield founders had. It was SO EXTENSIVE. We have silver cast by Paul Revere! It's very cool. And the tour guide was the sweetest old lady. She was totally into the tour and was very excited about the collection. The things that rich people had made of silver! It was all a show to one-up their friends and impress their guests. I mean, there was a silver stuffing spoon, salt bowls, and nutmeg grater! Who does that?! The designs were beautiful, though, and they also reflected the furniture styles from England.

This was what we talked about this afternoon after the silver tour. The two articles we read were actually about mannerism as a design style and not museum theory. Mannerism is a style that reflected classical elements but also had grotesque images. Grotesque in this context meant very busy ornamentation and not something hideous. The style was very popular in the 1740s, but it actually started in Renaissance Italy. It moved to Northern Europe and finally to England thanks to the Spanish invasion of the Netherlands (due to religious differences). From England, the design came to the colonies. You look at everything from the leg designs, ornamentation, types of wood, whether there is veneer, the use of dove-tails or joints, etc. It's interesting.

The rest of the afternoon was spent finishing the House study of the Wells-Thorn House. The fellows got to work to together to evaluate one of the parlors and the two upstairs bedrooms. We dated the rooms at 1800 up through 1820s respectively. It was nice to be able to examine the rooms without Josh just lecturing us about the elements in it. It shows that we are actually developing the skills needed to access. The only thing we have going on tonight is more reading about house construction. Tomorrow I should actually be able to look at my object for my paper. I am going to examine two samplers from the Colton family and use the papers as my main sources in figuring out the context of the objects. Some aspect of this will also become my final project. I'll tell you more once I figure that out. I am going to get those articles read. Until later!

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