So long, stuff

Getting rid of things I’ve made is never easy. I tend to want to keep it forever, whether I use it or not, and that’s a bad habit.

I doubt I’ve kicked that habit, but I have finally managed to part with a few pieces I’ve been hanging onto because… well, I don’t know why I was keeping them. The pieces in question are reproduction 19th-century furniture from one of my Civil War woodworking books

The least complicated was a folding oak table, which I patterned after an original I was able to examine and measure as well as others in vintage photos. Next was a folding camp cot featured in the 1859 book “The Prairie Traveler,” by Randolph Marcy. The book had a description, plus two very nice sketches of the cot set-up and in the folded configuration. No dimensions were given, so I sized it to a modern equivalent.

The third one, the one I was proudest of, was an officer’s folding camp chair. I had no description or dimensions, but I did have a series of digitized photos from the Library of Congress taken in 1863. The photographer staged multiple shots with officers sitting around camp and included the chair in question. For each photo he rearranged the camp furniture, the officers swapped seats, and he took shots from different angles each time. And because the photos were extremely high resolution, I could zoom in on any detail I wanted, and was able to extrapolate dimensions from other objects in the photos.

I loved all three of those pieces and, like much of what I make, I just kept them. I told myself I would use them for reenacting, but of course I never did. (What?!! Take my camp furniture outside?)

But we’re moving, and we’re downsizing so it just made sense to finally let them go. The best part is that their new owner is another reenactor who does old-style wet-plate photography, and he plans to use them as photo props in his work.

I’ll miss those pieces, but this seems a proper home for them. As I created all three by studying period photographs, it’s only fitting that in their next life they’ll be in front of the camera once again.

A.J.

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