Learning With IGMA

Brad Hillgartner working on his study room box in Peter Kendall's class.

Brad Hillgartner working on his study room box in Peter Kendall’s class.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Colonial Williamsburg Study Program.  As co-chair of the IGMA Education Committee I was there to supervise, but I abhor the possibility of wasted time, so I figured I might as well take a class while I was at it, and signed up for Peter Kendall’s structure class where we recreated, in 1/12 scale, two walls of the Governor’s Palace Study.

Some of the work of the basket makers from Bonni Backe's class.

Some of the work of the basket makers from Bonni Backe’s class.

It was an ambitious class-and as an occasional instructor myself, I am very aware of how difficult it is to predict the length of time it will take a group of people with various skill sets to complete any specific process. We must all have been about equally skilled as at the end of our 18 hours of instruction, we all left with room boxes at approximately the same stage of completion.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was elated to have had a chance to work with power tools I don’t have at home, on processes I was familiar with, but have little chance to practice. We sawed, routed and beveled, assembled cornices from multiple moldings, mitered and installed moldings as well as flooring, aging it to resemble the original old Southern pine floors of the original structure.

Joanna Marsland's efforts in Bill Studebaker's class on display at the graduation luncheon.

Joanna Marsland’s efforts in Bill Studebaker’s class on display at the graduation luncheon.

Other classes traveled similar routes, from cutting and installing inlay on a bottle box and stand, to carving four matching cabriole legs for a walnut tea table. And lest you dismiss basket weaving as ‘fluff’, the students in this class worked long and hard to complete their market and painted splint baskets, challenging their full scale fingers to manipulate 1/12 scale splints in a neat and orderly fashion.

All attendees were offered the chance to take the Behind the Scenes tour of Williamsburg’s conservation facility. There they heard and saw how the experts conserve and restore Colonial Williamsburg’s many treasures. Museum passes also allowed unlimited access to the Dewitt Wallace and Rockefeller Folk Art Museums for the duration of the study program.

Jan Gautney and Tom Fisher hard at work in Iulia Chin Lee's class.

Jan Gautney and Tom Fisher hard at work in Iulia Chin Lee’s class.

Social interaction was also on the schedule, with dinners both Friday and Saturday evenings and a graduation luncheon on Monday where all student projects were put on display. A thoroughly rewarding weekend, and a wonderful break in the winter routine, as many of us dream of June, and that wonderful week in Castine, which seems impossibly far away when you’ve just had 28+ inches of snow dropped on you!

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