A Finishing Passion
by Marci Crestani
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Even non-woodworkers instinctively recognize that a handsome creation can be cheapened by inadequate finishing skills. So it was understandable that the new owners of Charles and Henry Greene’s famed Blacker House – Harvey and Ellen Knell – were nervous about entrusting the enormous job of restoring the home’s architectural millwork to a man they didn’t know.
“I told Mr. Knell he didn’t have to worry because I had just completed a six-week correspondence class and was ready to work!” Brian Miller recalls. “Fortunately for me, Mr. Knell got the joke.” That was back in 1995 and Brian still regularly maintains the house for the couple.
Throughout his 38-year career as a wood finisher, Brian has become an expert in restoring Greene & Greene homes, having also worked on the Robinson, Freeman-Ford, Culbertson and Crocker-Crow homes, as well as Charles Greene’s personal residence. Yet despite his obviously impressive talent, an endearingly modest Brian credits his success to Jim Ipekjian – a woodworker who is widely regarded as the master of reproducing Greene & Greene furniture. “I owe it all to Jim,” Brian says.
The two men met through a mutual client, and each admired the other’s work. Consequently, when Jim was hired to recreate the dining room of the Robinson house as a permanent exhibit for the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif., he asked Brian to finish the room’s architectural millwork and cabinetry.
Web Site: Learn more about the Greene brothers at the Greene & Greene Virtual Archives.
Blog: Discover a Green & Greene finish used on mahogany.
To Buy: Build a Greene & Greene sideboard from unearthed original plans.
In Our Store: Study the influences of Charles and Henry Greene in “Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood and Light.”
From the November 2013 issue #207
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