Making a name for New Hampshire. The state's top furniture makers banded together in 1994, forming the New Hampshire Furniture Masters Association to market their work to buyers beyond the region. Gathered in Canterbury, N.H., at the group's recent annual meeting are, from left along the curved back row, Thomas McLaughlin, Howard Hatch, Ted Blachly, Terry Moore, Garrett Hack, Jon Brooks, Jon Siegel, Jere Osgood, Jeffrey Cooper and Jo Stone; and in the right foreground, from left, are Loran Smith, Wayne Marcoux, Bill Thomas, Omar Clairmont and David Lamb.
shops. What piqued McLaughlin's interest most, though, was a brand-new, third organization, launched by the state's master furniture makers, Lamb among them.
The new group was called the New Hampshire Furniture Masters Association and was the brainchild of local stockbroker Anthony Hartigan (see Notes & Comment, FWW #138, p. 24). Hartigan devised an innovative method for marketing studio furniture outside the small state. In a nutshell, the group finds local patrons to commission pieces that are put up for auction at an annual, well-publicized event. If and when a piece sells at auction (each has a minimum selling price), the artist simply makes a duplicate for the patron. If the piece doesn't sell, the patron gets the original.
The keys to success for the new venture were educating affluent local citizens
The Guild of New Hampshire Woodworkers has an inclusive, educational mission. Some of the group's 300 members attended a recent seminar at the workshop of David Lamb, in Canterbury. Inside, Loran Smith, the group's current chairman, gave a demonstration on molding techniques. Like many in the Furniture Masters group, Smith and Lamb remain active in the Guild, helping others reach their potential.
about the tradition of fine furniture making in the state and the concept of patronage, and publicizing the auction to potential buyers in Connecticut, New York and beyond. The first exhibit and auction was held in 1996, and the new approach was an instant success.
Last September the group held its fifth annual exhibit and auction at the posh Mount Washington Hotel and Resort. The event offered the work of 30 furniture makers and, as a new twist, welcomed seven guest artists from outside New Hampshire, including Silas Kopf, Kristina Madsen and Hank Gilpin.
Lamb assured McLaughlin that he had the right stuff for the Masters Association, and McLaughlin was convinced he could "hit the ground running" in New Hampshire. In the end, his relocation decision was
easy. He set up shop in Canterbury in 1997, making 18th-century reproductions. "It has worked out well," he said.
McLaughlin regularly has pieces in the Masters Association auction and the League's annual fair. He is an active member of both groups and of the Guild and teaches furniture-making classes at Canterbury Shaker Village.
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