Willamette Living April / May 2016

Page 31

Nick Clark Old World Craftsman

From the National Portrait Gallery, London Nick Humphrey, Furniture, Textiles and Fashion Department, Victoria and Albert Museum: “Organization of the woodworking trades From the 14th century the woodworking trades that organized themselves in English cities consisted of sawyers, carpenters, joiners, carvers, turners, and associated trades like wheelwrights, boxmakers, coffer-makers and upholders. 
There were significant joiners’ workshops in many English towns, notably major ports and cathedral cities. Cities might specialize in certain trades and related trades tended to be grouped in particular areas of the city. In the provinces woodworking trades were not so rigidly demarcated as in London and larger cities. In smaller towns a single company of woodworkers might include joiners, carpenters, masons, turners and sawyers. ... Joiner-made products, where carpenters were concerned principally with structural building work, and nailed (or boarded) furniture, was the foundation of the joiners’ trade. Key to that was the tight-fitting mortice and tenon joint, the basis of panelled construction. Joinermade products included wainscot and other fixed woodwork and temporary architecture. Moveable products included beds, tables, chests, chairs and stools, cupboards and buffets, certain boxes and special jobs such as “all frames for pictures Latesses for scrivenors or the like”, specified in an arbitration ruling of 1632, the wooden moulds used by plasterers, and - as seems likely - the oak panels used by portrait painters.

Regulation The “Faculty of Joyners and Ceilers [responsible for wainscot panelling] or Carvers of London” received it's charter in 1570. Members of the Joiners Company enjoyed various privileges, and were obliged to adhere to certain regulations. Their work carried a quality assurance, in that they had served a full apprenticeship and remained subject to viewers and searchers, with fines levied on substandard work, but they were not obliged to sign their work. They were entitled to work within the City. They were limited to two apprentices. They (alone) could employ overseas-born craftsmen. They could expect their professional interests to be defended, and to receive charitable assistance in times of difficulty. By the Great Statute of Artificers (1563) an apprentice served 7 years, with an examination test piece, at which point he might, by prior agreement, receive a set of tools from his master. This was followed by two years as a journeyman, after which he could then apply to be a master…..” In England, you see, woodworking is serious business. One does not simply declare oneself a woodworker. There is an arduous process to become a “Master Joiner.” No cutting corners, no fooling around. One such master craftsman is Nick Clark, who has migrated to the Willamette Valley, and now offers his services to a discerning clientele. From his shop based in Philomath, Nick services clients all over the northwest from Seattle to Idaho and from the Willamette Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area. Nick Clark began his career more than thirty years ago doing


a formal apprenticeship with the leading joinery contractor in Sheffield, England. He worked as a Master Joiner until moving to Berkeley, California in 1991 to begin his own furniture making business. From 1994 to 1996, Nick developed invaluable expertise as a student in the prestigious two-year fine woodworking program at The College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg, California under the tutelage of James Krenov — internationally famous woodworker / furniture maker. Nick has numerous teaching positions, awards and publications to his credit. From sharing his knowledge with teens to teaching woodworking classes for adults in Ashland. Other accomplishments include Hand tool and projects classes in San Francisco, feature articles in the San Francisco Chronicle, and a first place award from American WoodworkerExcellence in Craftsmanship. Nick Clark Design was founded in 1998 as a vehicle for creating distinctive fine furniture, contemporary kitchens, cabinetry. Today, he has many satisfied clients that can attest not only to the quality and beauty of his work, but also to his ability to get things done on time and within budget. With over thirty years experience with both contemporary and traditional designs and methods, Nick is exceedingly well equipped to help you interpret, create, and manifest your unique vision. If you have a unique woodworking project in mind from cabinetry to corporate meeting tables, give Nick a call and schedule some time, you’ll be glad you did.

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