I attended a presentation, luncheon/presentation, book signing on 8/16/03
at Old Sturbridge Village at which Norm Abram was the featured speaker...
The day started off with Norm and OSV housewrights doing a compare and
contrast presentation. This event occurred at the site of a new small house
that OSV is building using 19th century technology. I got the last question
of that event in: "Hey Norm, did you ever finish the stairs at your house?"
He got a big grin on his face and responded with a single word...
His wife, YES, HIS WIFE, then said "That is on the Honey-Do list!" and the
place burst into laughter!
I spoke with his wife a bit after that and she was a lovely woman, warm and
friendly... I'm not sure how to spell her name... it's either Alysse or
Alese or Ellease or something like that. BTW, for those who are interested,
Norm was wearing his ring.
Next was a 2 1/2 hour luncheon/presentation. Norm walked around and spoke
with EVERYONE in the room... shook hands, posed for photos. Then he showed
film clips from his OSV related projects and discussed his techniques in
segments. After each segment an OSV interpreter gave the 19th century take
on things. Norm then showed us a NYW project that will appear on a new show
sometime after January 2004 that is based on an OSV artifact.
It was obvious that Norm was interested in developing his skills even more
over time. He also spoke in terms of interpreting pieces of furniture rather
than copying them... he sounded more like an academic than a technician
throughout the presentation which warmed my heart. He also discussed his
evolution from carpenter to TOH and how much different NYW was to do as
compared to TOH--whole different sets of skills were needed for each stage
of his career.
In terms of developing projects Norm said that he takes some measurements
and photos, sketches some things out, and then develops the project while
building the prototype. During the prototype development he takes notes,
measurements, etc., that are used to build the show piece and develop the
measured drawings. He said that he can visualize the finished piece and what
needs to be done and doesn't need detailed plans, cut lists, etc. to create
There was also a really neat souvenir on the tables at lunch... an
autographed biscuit! ;-)
The book signing was another chance at interaction and photos.
The funny thing is that as things unfolded we talked about the web cam and
digital photography rather than woodworking! :-) He said he loves digital
cameras as they are really handy when he's looking over furniture for
possible projects. He also mentioned the pitfalls of the web cam in that you
really are on stage all the time and any unsafe behaviors on a TOH worksite
are cause for concern.
Impressions: Norm is a genuinely nice guy who takes his craft seriously.
This was a wonderful experience and there were smiles and laughter in
abundance throughout the day. If the opportunity to participate in a similar
event presents itself to you I strongly suggest you take it!
Once I get the photos processed I'll post something...