Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rustic Willow Chair Classes in Clarksville

John Whitt has been teaching rustic chair classes in Clarksville since 2007. With his 30 years building willow furniture and his degree in education, it just seemed right to him to begin sharing his knowledge and skill with others.

The classes are generally held on the weekends. The Saturday-Sunday class begins at 9 a.m. both days. Class is over Saturday at 5 and Sunday at completion of the chair--usually around 3-4 p.m. The charge for the class is $280.00. All materials are provided.

The class begins Saturday morning with a quick field trip to a willow patch at the edge of town. John shows students how to identify the trees and what to look for when harvesting them. He shows how to cut to encourage regrowth. (Willows are prolific here in the Midwest; you just need to know where to look and what to look for.)

These girls came to one of John's earliest classes. They each made their own chair, but they helped each other, too.

The classes take place right in downtown Clarksville in a charming little courtyard on Main Street. Class size is 2-3 students. The small size classes insures everyone gets lots of attention.

Work goes on outside. Big umbrellas are provided for afternoon shade. In case of rain the small brick building in the back of this picture can be used.

John is always available to consult and advise!

These Columbia sisters came prepared! They even brought their own tent for shelter (which proved to be a pretty good idea--it was hot this particular weekend).

This chair is almost finished....

Katheryn puts on the finishing touches....

The class always ends with a 'Champagne Moment' (or sometimes 'Sparkling Grape Juice Moment').

That first time you sit in your very own chair you made with your own two hands is a moment to savor!

Here was a great idea...a son bought his dad and brother chair classes for Christmas. They had a lot of fun together. A job well done, guys!

DETAILS: If you have 2 or 3 in your group (2-3 chairs to be made), you can arrange your own class by calling the Gallery at 573-242-3200. Classes are available most weekends from April through October. You may choose any weekend that works for you, as long as it is not already booked. If you are by yourself, you will be put on a list for match-up and we will call you when there is an available spot. A 50% deposit is required at time of scheduling.

Materials to bring: cordless drill, small hammer (12-14 oz.), utility knife, tape measure, small anvil pruners (not loppers), small hand saw, marking pencil or pen, sunscreen. (Do not buy any of these items; we have extras we are happy to share.) Be sure to bring/wear appropriate clothing as this is an outdoor class. Restaurants are within walking distance, or bring your lunch and relax in Riverfront Park on the banks of the mighty Mississippi.

We provide plenty of water and coffee. Places to stay are available within a few blocks. Check the city website for lodging info: .

Whether you take a class or just want to enjoy a beautiful day away from home, please visit Clarksville, a charming little town with history, art, nature, and fun for all!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What has John been up to in the Bent Tree workshop?

Welcome to John's workshop, where he is creating willow orbs. Here are several in various states of completion. See some completed orbs below....

" Willow Moons or Rustic Orbs--we call them by both names. They come with or without a stand, and measure from 4" to 9" diameter. They are great conversation pieces, and everyone loves to touch them. I think it's because they are soooo smooth and so...round!

This table we dubbed "The Manhattan Table", as it looks like it would fit right in to a New York City condo. This one is at home in St. Louis.

Taos-style chairs with willow slat seats and backs.

Oblong dining table and eight Taos-style chairs. Table has a pine top, and chairs have sculpted-pine seats.

This 'root-base' dining table with antique barnwood top is now at home in California, surrounded by the family's own upholstered chairs. What a beautiful setting!

The 'Freestyle' Bed, so named because every bed is different, depending on the way the willow pieces were formed in nature.

This interesting-shaped console table has been quite popular. This one has a pine top and lower willow shelf.

Well, you made it to the end of the The Bent Tree Gallery blog for today. Please check back again; John has a lot more to show you! And please stop by Marcia's online store when you get a chance; it's at