It is quite coincidental that I have been reviewing images of the White House pieces I designed and made for the Cabinet Room of the White House. I decided several weeks ago to write the story behind building them and what it took to develop the idea and then deliver them to the White House on the eve of former President George W. Bush’s departure and President Obama’s taking up the presidency. Here we are once more to see history repeat itself. I was walking along the corridors and into rooms of the West Wing in January 2009; I was 59 years old. When President-Elect Joe Biden takes office I will be 71. This week’s events around the world are capped with significant changes for the USA. Seeing all of the news footage took me to my all-too-brief visit to the US capital and my being escorted around the White House by the First Lady’s assistant. We got the personal tour as we waited for White House staff to deliver the pieces into their new home in the Cabinet Room. This, for me, was icing on the cake.
This past month we acquired permission to use the pictures from a photographer who documented the build to begin updating our archives and fill in the gaps in my own images that I took at the time of building the White House credenzas. Up until now, the effort it took to complete these two pieces has been more a snapshot yet the work was highly demanding and never did I work such long hours to complete on time if not a day ahead. An hour’s sleep per 24 hours for me during the last week was not uncommon.
I have started to write a series of posts fresh from my memory and supported by my drawings and notes kept in my Journals to explain what no other maker of White House pieces could do as readily in the previous millennia. With over 300 items of handmade furniture used and exhibited around the West Wing of the White House, furniture pieces and knowledge of their makers are often lost in the anonymity of those artisan’s lives. I do doubt that, in the business of politics, the makers of many of the pieces will actually be known. No matter, the pieces do reflect the true art and craft of handmade pieces. I am pleased to have been able to make my contribution to this collection.