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Popular Woodworking contributor David Mathias continues his reports from the Craftsman Weekend in Pasadena, California.

Pasadena Heritage Craftsman Weekend is a three-day event. My trip to Pasadena, however, is a full week. A very busy week. So we built a little downtime into the Sunday schedule. By downtime I mean taking a driving tour and strolling around the exhibition hall gawking at beautiful examples of contemporary Arts & Crafts pieces and antiques.

As I mentioned in a previous entry, the exhibition is impressive. Through the good fortune of meeting via the Greene-style-furniture Yahoo group I was able to spend time with Darrell Peart, Tom Stangeland and Tim Celeski. Tim designs and makes outdoor furniture, including the world’s first comfortable Adirondack chair, in various Arts & Crafts styles. Tom Stangeland designs furniture inspired by Greene & Greene but with substantial interpretation. I spent significant time in his booth and never tired of looking at the pieces he brought. Darrell Peart’s furniture is more obviously Greene & Greene, including reproductions. His Gamble dining table is a wonderful achievement. Best of all, these men were very generous with their time and knowledge, and great fun to hang out with.

At least two Los Angeles-area museums have Greene & Greene furniture in their permanent collections. The collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art includes roughly a dozen pieces any number of which may be in storage at any given time. We got lucky , there were four pieces on display, all from the Blacker house, when we visited on Monday: the hall table, a hall chair, a living room chair and the dining room chandelier. The hall table is roughly 6′ long and 3′ deep. It is elegant and appears to be simple but there are, of course, many subtle details. The drawers presage those of the Gamble house and the lifts on the rails are reminiscent of those from the Robinson house. Many consider the Blacker living room chair to be the ultimate Greene & Greene furniture design. Having now seen one, I can understand the sentiment even if I don’t agree. Thinking about trying to make that chair made my head hurt. Seeing Jim Ipekjian’s faithful reproduction, on Wednesday, made my ego hurt.

Better known for its Greene & Greene collection is the Huntington Library and Gardens, our Tuesday destination. The G&G furniture collection is extensive. The Thorsen dining table, chairs and sideboard are there. The Robinson dining room furniture resides there in a re-creation of the room itself. The Ford house server is also there. The highlights, in my opinion, are the two dining tables. The Thorsen table includes stunning inlays and a very interesting base including rails that meet legs at a corner. The Robinson dining table is likely my new candidate for Charles’ first great piece of furniture. Not coincidentally, the Robinson house marks the first collaboration between the Greenes and Peter Hall.

Throughout this trip I have felt as though I am leading a charmed existence. Multiple people, with no reason to do so, have shown me kindness resulting in some of the best memories of the trip. Kori Capaldi, operations manager of the Gamble house, invited me to a reception for a speaker in the Friends of the Gamble House lecture series. The reception was held at the Gamble house. So Monday evening I found myself standing at the front door of the Gamble house, having rung the doorbell, waiting for someone to answer. I’ll never forget that feeling. The house changes character at night. Only a poet could properly describe the warm glow on the wood from the art glass light fixtures.

In another example, Jim Ipekjian graciously agreed to allow several of us into his shop for a brief tour. Jim is a charming guy and seeing his shop was a treat. Scattered about were a number of pieces in various stages of completion.

Any one of them would be the crowning achievement of my woodworking career. Jim was nonchalant about them, even encouraging us to touch and to open drawers, etc. I was able to sit in his reproductions of a Blacker living room chair and a Thorsen dining chair , about as close as any living person is likely to come to sitting in an original. More on Jim in my final entry.

One day remains in my trip. So far it has been incredible. When we made the schedule, Wednesday was expected to be the best day. If that holds true I think my head might explode. You wouldn’t want to miss that.

– David Mathias

David’s final report from Pasadena will appear on this blog on Wednesday

– Bob Lang

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