Prepping for Williamsburg, a/k/a “Say Hello to Bench #18”

Presenting a demonstration takes a lot of time, as much time as actually teaching a hands-on session on the same topic.  When I used to manage educational programs in my previous life I usually budgeted staff time of one full day of preparation for each hour of a new class.  So if a colleague came to me with an idea to develop and teach a week-long class, I knew to budget for them eight weeks of prep time.  Time-compressed demos for a conference like Working Wood in the 18th Century are even more lopsided, as a 90-minute live demo requires roughly the same preps and materiel as a two week workshop.  So, for my two sessions at this year’s conference, Roubo Rediscovered: Merging 1760s Paris with The 21st Century and The Historic Gilder’s and Finisher’s Workshops,  I began preparing aand assembling the supplies in earnest before Thanksgiving.

Things were progressing swimmingly until just before Christmas, when I corresponded with Anthiny Hay Cabinet Shop master Kaare Loftheim about the logistics of moving Colonial Williamsburg’s Roubo bench to the stage of the auditorium.  His reply, which I should have expected, was that they did not possess a Roubo bench.  I smacked my head.  Of course they would not have such a bench since Williamsburg was essentially a 17th century English town!

It was time to rethink my strategy as I would need to arrive with my own Parisian workbench.  I already had three that would serve the purpose nicely but they were so ensconced in their places that it was easier to build a new one for this demonstration.

So I did…