Brent Karner, owner and master craftsman of ClearLake Furniture, has been crafting fine furniture by hand for nearly 30 years. But these days, he's going a little farther into the past to bring a real present to some amateur furniture crafters.
This July, Karner will teach a group of woodworkers how to build a wooden rocking chair. He is using the chairs of the L.G. Fullam & Sons Company as a model. The Fullam rockers were designed and manufactured in Ludlow over a century ago, but their classic styling and sturdy design make for a timeless piece.
He is opening the doors to ClearLake's workshop the weekend of July 9-11, as part of the summer-long Black River Academy Museum's tribute to Fullam's work.
In 1889, Fullam and his son began building chairs in an old blacksmith shop in the small town of Ludlow. Within five years, the demand for Fullam's chairs grew to the point where he doubled his space and employed 30 men. The Fullam rockers were known for their comfort, including a high back, wider seat, and broad, flat arms that provided the ideal rest.
The company offered more than 90 styles, and was manufacturing 150 to 200 chairs a day to keep up with demand. In 1909, the company hit hard times. The bank foreclosed on the building in 1915.
But ClearLake Furniture and BRAM are reviving the chairs that had been a popular fixture on front porches, with "What the Rocker Knows".
The weekend workshop provides participants with the materials, tools, and instruction for building a rocking chair out of Vermont maple, white oak, or cherry-theirs for the keeping. The $1,920 fee also includes lodging at either the Jackson Gore Inn or Governor's Inn, plus two catered lunches and a dinner at the Coleman Brook Tavern.