Adirondack Journal — Rustic Furniture Fair Celebrates 25 years


The Adirondack Museum's signature event, the Rustic Furniture Fair, is celebrating the big 2-5 in 2012. The Rustic Furniture Fair started in 1987 under the direction of Craig Gilborn, the museum's then Director. Craig is known for his book Rustic Revival which is credited with bringing rustic furniture back into the mainstream.

"[Craig Gilborn] took us rustic makers out of our shops and cellars and wherever we were [for the Rustic Fair] and we were talking shop and stuff and then we'd go up to Bull Cottage and take a look at the tremendous work done in the 1800s and each year... we'd get to thinking we were doing pretty good and then maybe we'd walk up to Bull Cottage and see the historic collection Craig and the Adirondack Museum had gathered and realize oh my gosh we've got some work to do! You know these people didn't have power tools or anything. What he did, Craig, he upped the evolution of rustic. He really hurried it along."
- Barry Gregson

The first fair included only 6 artisans- or rustic furniture makers. These included: Barry Gregson, Tom Phillips, Ken Heitz, Jamie Sutliff, Jean Armstrong and Jackson Levi Smith.
Jean Armstrong took up rustic furniture making in the 1950s to furnish her summer camp on Big Wolf Lake near Tupper Lake. Barry Gregson began working with wood as a child, and in 1985 he began making rustic chairs to spare his back from the strains of building stone chimneys. Ken Heitz gave up a corporate job in New Jersey to move to the woods near Indian Lake, where he began making twig branch furniture for his own use. Tom Phillips first learned about woodworking from his father-in-law Carl Hathaway, an Adirondack guideboat builder. Phillips then took his skill and began studying historic pieces of rustic furniture, museum collections, and pieces in camps he cared for in Upper Saranac Lake.
Jackson Levi Smith took up rustic furniture making in the early 1980s because he wanted a piece for his own use, and soon developed into making pieces for others including Great Camp Sagamore. Jamie Sutliff has several creative outlets in his life, and woodworking is just one of them. Sutliff has helped to engineer a suspension bridge at Camp Topridge, as well as carve doors that are installed in the 100s throughout the country.
The 2012 fair will showcase 60 rustic furniture makers including Barry Gregson, returning for his 25th show. To mark the 25th Anniversary of the Rustic Furniture Fair, participating artisans have created special one-of-a-kind "Commemorative Pieces" to be available for sale at the show. We ask that all pieces include silver (or white) birch to mark the Silver Anniversary of the Fair.

Artisans with commemorative pieces include:
Jay Dawson
Russ DeFonce
Mike Barber
Barry Gregson
Gary Chudzinski
Rhea Costello
Jeanne Dupre
Gary Casagrain
Brant Davis
Ron Fenlong
Mike Kazlo
Morris Kopels
Janice Kostreva
Gary Krauss
Paul Lakata
Barry Nelson
Anto Parseghian
Larry Post
Christopher Rice
Jeannie Ridgeway
Michael Ringer
Mike Roberts
John Sterling
Stan Steeves / Chuck Phinney
Robert Stump
Jim Thompson

The Adirondack Museum's Rustic Furniture Fair will take place on September 8 and 9, 2012. For additional information, please visit: http://www.adkmuseum.org/exhibits_and_events/special_events/detail/?id=305.