Thank you everyone for your encouraging words since my birthday. Not just the birthday wishes but all that you said to launch me onto my new year. Sometimes we don’t see so much the purpose for our lives until we are older, but our reaching so many of you around the world has been an amazing reward, not just for me but everyone that has brought this vision for training to pass. Yes, even on my birthday we filmed. You see every day counts and for me, filming on my birthday was the icing on the birthday cake. It’s the filming is the latest project I’ve mentioned in making the prototype from pine, which of course is the dresser. Once again thank you everyone.
It was interesting to see the take-up on my using the name dresser to describe the chest of drawers though. The Welsh might make or stake their claim as to its origin, and that’s doubtful, it being an English word and not Welsh, but then so too the Irish, the Scots and then regions of England too. Even counties had their versions making the term vernacular and so I am not sure if it really matters. Look up Lancashire dresser here to see what I mean. Or perhaps Pembrokeshire dresser here. These are counties not towns and each county had its version. I understand the confusion because whatever its shape and size, a dresser was what was used to dress whatever needed dressing. The terms kitchen dresser, hall dresser determine more the location of a piece than its function, shape, style or size, but in the hall of a house it would indeed be used for dressing before leaving the house and so house family outdoor clothing. In the kitchen it would be the original kitchen cabinet or perhaps the sideboard or simply cupboard. You would not find a Welsh dresser in the bedroom of a house in the original use of the piece and in the American use of the term you would not find a dresser in the kitchens of today except as an accent or conversation piece. Looking at the English dresser it can be seen that a dresser could be a long table with drawers, a cabinet with drawers or indeed a Welsh-dresser type with an upper level displaying and holding plates and such.
It is a strange thing the ownership of titles. I look at some dressers from regions of Britain like Wales, compare them to say an English or Irish dresser and see little if any differences in some cases. Is it that where it was made gave it its name or is it that a Welshman or Irishman made it? Was it the style itself? Look through books on vernacular furniture and I am sure you will find all kinds of incontrovertible evidence to support your theories, but at the end of the day, culture is changed by the absorption and release of external influences that once internalised and integrated into a culture define who or what it is. Because I lived and worked in the USA for half of my working life I learned to understand the term dresser differently than if I had remained in England. When a customer came and asked me for a dresser I needed to rethink the image conjured up by my mind. Customers were not looking for a large plate rack stacked onto a sideboard with two or three drawers and meant for use in a dining room but a neat chest of drawers. Neither were they looking for a dressing table either. So I learned to flex and bend, to absorb and create differently. My customers liked my “cute” Englishisms but more importantly they liked the drawings that told them what I was preparing to build for them because they could see they were getting what they wanted and of course that we were all on the same page.
So the exchange of dialogue over my last article using the term dresser has been interesting and of course stimulating to the point of being provocative. I love the versatility of my craft. I also like the fact that what qualifies your view of something, almost anything, can be quite different to say someone else’s, depending on experiences influenced by culture. There can be no doubt that American Windsor chairs are very much more graceful than the English Windsors, but mostly in both camps they carry the same names such as sack-back Windsor, continuous arm Windsor, comb-back Windsor and so on. So here we see that nomenclature depicts shape and style and not country of origin, though in its origin, no matter what, Windsor will always remain a region of England.