Author Archives: Administrator

Jeffrey Cooper: African Burying Ground Casket Project

We are pleased to share photos from the African Burying Ground Dedication in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on May 23.  Jeffrey Cooper created the nine plain pine caskets which were interred at the dedication.  We can’t think of a more important project or one more worthy of a Master’s careful hand.
We thank photographers David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto, (Photos 1 and 5) and Peter Newbury (Photos 2, 3, 4, 6) for sharing the following pictures which depict the events of the day:

African Burying Ground Dedication, Sunday, May 23

For a complete schedule of events:
We congratulate Jeffrey Cooper for his important work with this project.  A effort worthy of a Master!
Woodworker crafts caskets for Africans Burying Ground

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories that will appear in the Portsmouth Herald and Seacoast Sunday in the next six weeks, leading up to the May 23 dedication of the African Burying Ground Memorial Park on Chestnut Street in Portsmouth.

Master woodworker Jeffrey Cooper has been given a most meaningful task by Portsmouth’s African Burying Ground Committee.
In his shop on McDonough Street, he has been creating the nine plain pine caskets that will soon carry the remains of 13 Africans who once walked the streets of the city and who will be interred with great dignity and respect at the African Burying Ground Memorial Park next month.

They are among some 200 people of African descent who were buried in a field on the outskirts of the city in the 18th and 19th centuries – in what was called the Negro burying ground. Most of the remains were uncovered in 2003 during utility work on Chestnut Street, and have been stored since awaiting reburial.
The longest casket Cooper has made is 70 inches by 25 inches, and will contain almost a full sized set of remains. The smallest is 19 inches by 9 inches, with five compartments to hold small pieces of bone found in 2008 that DNA testing has shown to be from five different people.
Two of the caskets fit on top of each other, because when remains were discovered 12 years ago, a 12-year-old child was found buried directly above an adult male.

Consulting archaeologist Kathleen Wheeler said the two might well have been related and should be reburied as they were found.
All nine will fit together like puzzle pieces in a large concrete crypt at the burying ground site. When the three largest are placed side by side, the carving on the lids will form a Sankofa – a West African symbol that translates as “reach back and get it.” The symbol will mirror the Sankofa mosaic on a lid that will be placed atop the caskets at the conclusion of the reburial ceremony.
“It will be like a foreshadow,” said Cooper, “like what’s in the ground and hidden is a reflection of what’s on top.”
And then his handiwork will likely not be seen again.

To Read More:

Updated Video Link:

Cooper: African Burying Ground Casket Video

By Deborah McDermott
Posted Apr. 19, 2015 at 2:01 AM
Updated at 7:41 AM


Brad Wolcott: Beauty Isn’t Skin Deep/Assembling the Luna Joint


by Furniture Master Brad Wolcott

Sometimes the most challenging aspects of a piece lie below the surface.

For the table “Luna,” which I created for the Currier Museum’s recent ‘Heart of the Arts’ event, the clean lines and crisp intersection of the legs and apron hide a complex joint with incredible strength.  Combining a double miter with a tenon and a long dovetail, the joint allowed me to maintain the continuity of the curly maple around the top edge of the apron and create a visually interesting geometry at each corner.  The strength of the joint comes from the combination of the tenon and the sliding dovetail.  The long grain face of the tenon provides a good glue surface and prevents the leg from twisting, while the two dovetails on each leg lock the miters and tenons in place.  Gravity works to hold the joint together and when carefully executed, the joint is rigid enough to function without glue.  An easier and faster way to achieve the same appearance would be to use slip tenons to hold the the miters together, but this approach has little mechanical strength and less glue surface to hold it together.

I am looking forward to using this technique on future pieces and I would like to build a similar table to this one in figured Claro Walnut with a hand-hewn, natural cleft slate top if the opportunity arises.


Applying pressure to a double-mitered joint during glue-up can be a tricky process.

It’s important to use clamps during the assembly process to ensure that all of the joints seat properly, but for this table there were no parallel surfaces available to apply clamping pressure perpendicular to the faces of the joints.  In order to create those parallel clamping surfaces I glued small, angled MDF blocks to the legs and apron pieces using warm hide glue.  Once the assembly is complete, I typically chisel off the majority of the MDF blocks and then use a hand plane to remove the remaining MDF and glue from the surface of each piece.  On previous projects I have used yellow glue to affix these pieces, but yellow glue has a tendency to tear out curly maple if you try to remove it too aggressively.  Hide glue has the advantage of being dissolvable in warm water so it is easy to remove from the surface of the piece before doing the final cleanup with a hand plane.  This also reduces the wear you put on a sharp blade and saves time at the sharpening bench.

IMG_0795NOTE: The following post was first published on April 27, 2015.  Unfortunately the link was disabled during a website update.

We are grateful to Brad Wolcott for sharing his techniques and apologize to our blog readers for the technical difficulties!

CAMERON: Smithsonian Craft Show, April 23 to 26

Stop by Booth 226 at the Smithsonian Craft Show to see John Cameron and his latest, greatest, and favorite creations!

April 23 to 26
National Building Museum
Washington, DC

We congratulate John for commanding the national stage with his craftsmanship!


cameron_diningchair_72dpi"Crane Chairs" by John CameronCabinet by John Cameron

Photo Credits: 1: By Artist; 2: Lance Patterson; 3 & 4: Bill Truslow


The annual Smithsonian Craft Show is a juried exhibition and sale of contemporary American crafts and design. Three jurors who are experts in the field and newly selected each year choose 121 artists from a large pool of applicants. Previous exhibitors must re-apply each year. No one is grandfathered into the show.  There is no quota for emerging artists or for any category of Craft Art.  Artists are selected on the basis of the originality, artistic conception, and quality of their work. The show is produced by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. Proceeds from the Show fund grants that benefit the Smithsonian’s education, outreach, and research programs.

The Show does not charge sales commissions. However, accepted artists are encouraged to donate an item for the Craft Show’s on-line auction, raffle, or other fund-raising initiatives, proceeds of which benefit the Smithsonian.

Widely regarded as the country’s most prestigious juried show and sale of fine American craft, the Smithsonian Craft Show is produced by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee to support its Grants Fund. Grants are awarded to address the Smithsonian’s Four Grand Challenges: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe, Valuing World Cultures, Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet, and Understanding the American Experience.


Opening Reception for A New Path: Prison Furniture Making Program Exhibit

Friday, March 27

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Furniture Masters’ Gallery, 49 South Main Street, Concord

The New Hampshire Furniture Masters are honored to present “A New Path: Prison Furniture Making Program,” an exhibition of works by inmates participating in the Furniture Masters’ Prison Outreach Program, which currently operates in correctional facilities in New Hampshire and Maine. The show will be on view at the Furniture Masters’ Gallery, located at 49 South Main Street in Concord, NH, from March 11 through June 8, 2015. An opening reception will be held on March 27 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Admission is free.

Terry Moore in shop #2-Photo Mike Rixon Terry Moore & Tom McLaughlin teaching-Photo Mike Rixon Making a leg-Photo Mike Rixon Carving detail-Photo Gary Samson

The Prison Outreach Program was founded in 1999, following an invitation from Former New Hampshire Superior Court Justice Kathleen A. McGuire to Furniture Master Terry Moore to visit the Concord correctional facility’s Hobby Craft Workshop. The program began with the instruction of Eric Grant and Tim Eldridge, two inmates who showed great promise. Today approximately 12 to 15 inmates are participating in the program at any given time, with more on a waiting list. Only those participants who have maintained an exemplary disciplinary record for one year are admitted. Participating inmates are schooled in the art of fine furniture making by a rotating faculty of Furniture Master volunteers including Terry Moore, Tom McLaughlin and many others.
“The Furniture Masters’ Prison Outreach Program provides inmates with opportunities to spend their time in prison productively, gain skills that make them highly marketable upon release, and work closely with men who are masters of their craft and role models of family and societal values–all with an eye on ensuring that they become responsible citizens who never return to prison,” observes Judge McGuire.
“As a mentor in the Prison Program over the past 16 years, it has been very rewarding for me see the personal growth of each inmate,” says Furniture Master Terry Moore, who has been deeply involved in the initiative since the outset. “Mastering difficult woodworking techniques builds self-confidence and a sense of self-worth. When an inmate creates a beautiful piece of furniture, he contributes something of lasting value to life—a stark contrast to the path that he was once on.”
After finding success in Concord, the program was extended to the Berlin, NH correctional facility, and in 2012, Furniture Masters Brian Reid and Howard Hatch launched a companion program for inmates at the Maine State Prison in Warren, ME. Recently, the Furniture Masters have received queries from correctional facilities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who are also interested in launching such an initiative.
Prison educational reform is increasingly garnering attention nationwide for its positive benefits. For example, a 2014 study published by the RAND Corporation reported that inmates who participated in correctional education programs had “43% lower odds of recidivating than inmates who did not.” Additionally, the study revealed that inmates who participated in educational programs while incarcerated were 13% more likely to secure employment after release than those who did not.
“For me, volunteering with the Prison Outreach Program is so much more than searching for a pat on the back for a job well done,” says Furniture Master and Maine program leader Brian Reid. “What we do inspires the prisoners. They are learning to be creative. They are gaining confidence in their decisions. They are looking to themselves for answers. They help each other. I see this in the prisoners every week. There are not many other programs in the prison that do this—this is what keeps me going in every week.”
“I am drawn to go into the prison because there is something wildly spiritual and adventurous about it,” notes Furniture Master and program volunteer Tom McLaughlin. “When I enter the inmate’s workshop, I am not thinking of myself as the good guy helping out a bad guy. Rather, we are two men who share a common creative passion, working together for good, without fear. It is exhilarating to think an encounter so small and simple can mean so much to a man’s experience inside a prison, and beyond.”


Jeffrey Cooper: Natural Attention Interview

Natural Attention
Jeffrey Cooper ‘69, Sara Crisp ‘76, Emma LeBlanc ’05
March 9 – April 17
Reception for the Artists Thursday March 12, 5:30 – 7:00

The Derryfield School
2108 River Road
Manchester, NH 03104
Contact: Lisa Tourangeau, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Phone: 603.669.4524, ext. 2174

“Can you describe your journey from The Derryfield School to an engineering degree to furniture artist?”

When I exited the education pipeline in the tumultuous 70s, I foun myself as an idealist in a world of jaded men. I soon dropped out and joined a commune in Oregon where I became the assistant to the cabinet maker.

When I left the commune, I pursued that new interest through classes with Ken Harris at the League of NH Craftsmen, with Dan Valenza at the University of New Hampshire, and at Peter’s Valley Craft Center in New Jersey. And that’s how it happened. Learning from such varied sources allowed me to develop my own unique and identifiable style. It’s whimsical folk art. The focus on nature themes in my designs reflects my lifelong passion for the outdoors,be it the woods or the garden.

“How, then, did you take such a strong interest in pushing the arts end of the furniture making spectrum?”

My mom was an artist in watercolor and oils and from my website: you can learn about my encounter with Raven and First Men by Haida artist Bill Reid at the Anthropology Museum of British Columbia,which is when I began carving wood.

Another key moment happened at the Primitive Art Show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York several years ago. In a display introducing the term “ideagraph” there was a spotted column labeled Giraffe, and a similar but horizontal spotted pipe labeled Leopard. OK, a bit of a stretch; but I could see it. My takeaway was that imagination can engage a viewer in ways that realism cannot. Returning home, I developed a style in nature carving that is lifelike without being truly realistic.


Jeffrey Cooper has developed a highly unique artistry that brings the healing beauty of the natural world into our living spaces. He takes special pride in his public art and has completed several interesting installations including both free standing and relief carved mural work. Examples of these works are available
in the gallery of his website which is divided into three sections – Home, Garden and Public Art.

Browse the “Gallery” to see works for the home, garden or public space. “How It’s Made” features archived newsletters where photos of work in progress will give you a deeper insight into his creative process. The “Current Events” page tells where you can see Cooper’s work and meet him. If you like what you see, visit the “Contact” page to let him know, inquire about a purchase or commission, or receive his newsletter.

Pictured is Jeffrey Cooper’s ‘Ant’s Totem’ which will be featured in the exhibit.  Photo by Bill Truslow.

Jeffrey Cooper: Natural Attention Exhibition

Natural Attention
Jeffrey Cooper ‘69, Sara Crisp ‘76, Emma LeBlanc ’05
March 9 – April 17
Reception for the Artists Thursday March 12, 5:30 – 7:00

Manchester: In celebration of fifty years of excellence in arts education, The Derryfield School’s Lyceum Gallery and Sculpture Garden will devote its 2014-2015 shows to highlighting alumni artists. The winter show features the range of The Derryfield School’s successes in the world of art from three very different professional artists. Presenting work: Jeffrey Cooper ‘69, Sara Crisp ‘76, Emma LeBlanc ’05.

Jeffrey Cooper ‘69 graduated from The Derryfield School in 1969 among the first class that entered as freshmen. He studied Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania but was drawn into the art of furniture building after classes at UNH and other workshops. An encounter with the monumental sculpture Raven and Her Children by Haida sculptor Bill Reid inspired Cooper’s passion for sculpture and public art. This ambition to carve has blossomed into a trademark vocabulary of hand crafted furniture embellished with relief carving. Much in the tradition of the great carvers he admires, Mr. Cooper’s reliefs present a story in images. Mr. Cooper has gone on to build notable acclaim for his fine carved handmade furniture. Each piece expresses a deep regard for the place of myth in our lives. These crafted works serve more than function, they capture a living spirit.

Sara Crisp ’76 works in encaustic, an ancient method of painting using wax and pigment fused with heat.  This process allows her to make many thin, translucent layers as well as embed natural objects. Wax has fluidity and responds to light. Ms. Crisp’s work combines this lively medium with natural objects that have similar qualities: butterfly wings, mica, flower pedals. In the background she layers letters, numbers, grids, and natural forms.  She describes this design element as “my attempt to select, catalog, and deify aspects of the natural world as they intersect and overlap with the human made world of language, symbol, and spirit.” In this exhibition these modest scale paintings draw the viewer into a close up world of soft focus beauty.

Emma LeBlanc ’05 is a Rhodes Scholar working on her PhD in Social Anthropology at Oxford.  She’s currently doing two years of fieldwork among forest workers in rural New Brunswick. The photographs on display in the Lyceum Gallery reveal the depth of her subjects. New Brunswick foresters and local resident are captured by LeBlanc’s large format film camera. The images are startlingly. The viewer can sense the presence of the individual in each portrait. The stilled moment is captured in LeBlanc’s precisely crafted compositions without losing the vitality of the individual. There is deep content in these images. LeBlanc reveals proud people facing real social change. The anthropological research LeBlanc is conducting is clearly portrayed in these professional and stirring images.

The show runs from March 9th through April 17th. The Gallery is open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm weekdays. There will be a reception for the artists on Thursday, March 12th, from 5:30 – 7:00 pm.

See the article at

The Derryfield School is a coeducational, non-sectarian, college-preparatory day school currently serving 380 students in grades 6-12 from over 40 communities. The mission of The Derryfield School is to inspire bright, motivated young people to be their best and provide them with the skills and experiences needed to be valued, dynamic, confident, and purposeful members of any community. For more information about the school, please visit the website at

For Further Information:

The Derryfield School
2108 River Road
Manchester, NH 03104
Contact: Lisa Tourangeau, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Phone: 603.669.4524, ext. 2174


"Foxglove and Fragrance" by Jeffrey Cooper, Detail  Jeffrey Cooper’s ‘Fragrant Flow’ which will be featured at the exhibit.  Photo by Bill Truslow.

INSPIRATION: Trout Fishing with Greg Brown

Where do the Furniture Masters get their inspiration?  Chasing the elusive artist muse!  For each Master it comes in varied forms but for our own Greg Brown the answer is trout fishing.  You’ll note the details of nature that carry through Greg’s pieces perhaps from observations standing by a stream waiting for the fish to bite!


Greg’s ‘Lindsey Table’ with carving of an actual maple leaf. Photo by Bill Truslow

First the inspiration:

Brown Inspiration

Then the creation:

Brown Fly Drawer

Fly Tying Desk by Greg Brown
Shaker Inspired









With quote from Henry David Thoreau ‘Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.’

Greg shared his work and inspiration with the other Furniture Masters and received the following response for future musing . . .

From Bill Thomas:

The Song of Wandering Aengus
By William Butler Yeats
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Matched by David Leach:

“Here is something definite, something
real. Thus, waking from a
midnight dream of horror, one hastily
turns on the light and lies
quiescent, worshiping the chest of drawers
worshiping solidity, worshiping reality, worshiping the
impersonal world which is a proof of some existence
other than ours. That is what one wants to be sure of
… Wood is something pleasant to think about.”

“The Mark on the Wall”
Virginia Woolf

The Masters and their muses always a delight!

COLLABORATION: Massachusetts State House Library Tables

The spirit of collaboration came together Lumix-07641-Oedelbeautifully in a recent project for the Massachusetts State House Library.  The task: to restore an original elliptical table, build a new identical to the original, and then design and build a round table that would fit between the other two  all within a short period of time.  Richard Oedel and his Fort Point Cabinetmakers shop joined forces with the North Bennet Street School, Robert Mussey Associates, and our own Greg Brown who did the carving on the legs for the new table.

At one point, there were 10 people working on the project and it all came together flawlessly just in time for an Opening Ceremony at the Library in late November.

Stop by the Massachuse20141123 Statehouse Tables 1-2tts State House Library to view the results for yourself!  Challenge: Can you pick out the original table?


John Cameron: Open Studio, Saturday, December 13, 2:00 p.m.

Join John Cameron and the artists at 34 Mt. Pleasant Studios

Open Studios

Saturday, December 12

2:00 p.m.


John Cameron’s latest creations will be on display as well as drawings, mock ups, prints from his fine furniture and engraving artworks.  Ann Cameron will be on hand featuring her slate lettering.

There are three artist’s studios on premise: a museum quality antique repair studio, a restoration carpentry shop, and John’s studio.

Be inspired this holiday season!



Reception: North Bennet Street School Exhibit

Join Us!

Friday, January 16

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

in conjunction with the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen

NH Furniture Masters’ Gallery
49 South Main Street
Pair of Seymour-Inspired Work/Occasional Tables by William Thomas Mahogany with veneers of burl walnut, satinwood, Brazilian rosewood, holly, ebony Photo credit: Bill Truslow
Pair of Seymour-Inspired Work/Occasional Tables by William Thomas
Mahogany with veneers of burl walnut, satinwood, Brazilian rosewood, holly, ebony
Photo credit: Bill Truslow

The New Hampshire Furniture Masters Gallery is honored to present the third exhibition in its ‘Schools of Thought’ series, “Schools of Thought III: North Bennet Street School,” an examination of works by makers from this esteemed Boston program and the ways in which their education shaped their development as artists. Rooted in the traditional techniques of early American Furniture, the Cabinet and Furniture Program at the North Bennet Street School (NBSS) has been developing some of the finest craftspeople in America for over 125 years. NBSS grads are known for their technical excellence and the program’s emphasis on traditional American design and construction gives it a unique place in the pantheon of contemporary American woodworking programs. The show will be on view at the Furniture Masters’ Gallery, located at 49 South Main Street in Concord, NH, from November 14, 2014 through March 10, 2015. A reception will be held on Friday, January 16, 2015 in conjunction with the League of NH Craftsmen. Admission to all events is free.
While most woodworking schools in the United States today place a greater emphasis on design than technique, NBSS’s Cabinet and Furniture program is based on the principal that excellent design can only be achieved through excellent construction. Using early American furniture as a starting point for its instruction, the program strives to inculcate its students with the technical expertise necessary to make furniture that will last for generations. This philosophy has produced some of the finest furniture makers in the United States today. “Building a complex piece of furniture is a journey, and every individual part has to be built correctly along the way,” explains Furniture Master and NBSS graduate William Thomas. “It is necessary learn to put the finished product aside and concentrate on the particular task at hand. That was the most important skill I learned at North Bennet Street School.”

“Schools of Thought III: North Bennet Street School” includes work by current Furniture Masters Greg Brown, Richard Oedel, Jeffrey Roberts, William Thomas, and Bradley Wolcott as well as North Bennet Street School faculty member Steve Brown.

Chippendale Chair by Jeffrey Roberts curly maple
Chippendale Chair
by Jeffrey Roberts
curly maple
Newport Lowboy by Jeff Roberts mahogany
Newport Lowboy
by Jeff Roberts
Cherry Tea Table by Steve Brown photo by Lance Patterson
Cherry Tea Table
by Steve Brown
photo by Lance Patterson