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College of Arts & Sciences
McKissick Museum


Upstate Cabinet Makers Tour

Saturday, May 20, 2017 -
8:30am to 6:00pm


$50 a person, includes round trip travel from McKissick to Greenville & Pickens 
Lunch is additional, estimated at $10 a person
To purchase tickets,contact Emerald Washington[washi374@mailbox.sc.edu]at 803-777-6403. 

Join us for an intimate glimpse of the artistry, tools, and processes of two artists featured in the exhibition, A Compass to Guide: South Carolina Cabinet Makers Today. Departing from McKissick Museum, we will stop first at the studio of Michael McDunn in Greenville.

Michael has worked in wood for over forty years. He purchased a wood lathe in 1975 and was soon asked to build displays and furniture for the Greenville County Museum of Art. Hired by the museum in 1976, he continued to develop his skill and love for art and finely designed furniture. McDunn left the museum in 1981 to concentrate full time on making custom pieces for individuals and businesses. The innovative and unique use of wood became Michael’s specialty as clients learned of his ability to fill a design need. While he enjoys working with walnut, cherry, and mahogany, he also uses exotic woods like ebony. He works in a range of styles, from 18th-century furniture to the contemporary pieces that are his passion. Looking ahead to our tour, Michael says:

 “Welcome to the Michael McDunn Studio. These are some of the things you will see on your tour here. When you first arrive you will enter my showroom and I will personally walk through with you and give you information on how the work was developed. Most of the pieces have very interesting stories about why I built them and the design and manufacturing intricacies involved in their production. Also in the showroom I have available a video walk-through of my portfolio. Next up will be my woodworking studio, where I will explain the process of designing and building a custom piece of furniture, choosing a finish and the finishing process. I look forward to seeing you and answering any questions you may have. I'm confident you will enjoy your visit.”

From Michael’s studio, we’ll head down North Main Street to the Northgate Soda Shop. The Soda Shop is something of a living history museum. Bricks from buildings that no longer exist sit on shelves alongside vintage bottles of Red Stripe and Miller Lite. Then there’s a moonshine still, a pair of ice tongs and a hand-dialed radio. Opened in 1947, the Soda Shop still services timeless homemade classics like pimento cheeseburgers, coleslaw, and many other favorites.

After lunch, we’ll make our way to Pickens to visit Harold Wayne Turner. A Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipient, Wayne is a cabinet maker, luthier, and musician. He explains his family’s deep woodworking roots and gives a preview of our tour:

“Prior to coming to America in 1640 and eventually settling in the Carolinas, the Turners of the Lamont Clan of Scotland were wood turners who made wooden pulleys for the Royal Navy. In the late 1800s, my great-grandfather, Thomas Fair Turner, made wooden tool handles for Solomon Jones, who had a toll road from Greenville County into North Carolina, now the Jones Gap State Park. His wife Laura’s brothers were furniture makers and wood carvers in the old Quaker tradition.

One brother, Benjamin Hamlin, and my grandfather, William Elias Turner, had a small construction company and helped build a folk art school on the Biltmore Estates. My grandfather was an accomplished wood worker and a blacksmith. He built furniture and helped build and restore resort properties in Western North Carolina. In 1906 he helped build Pickens Textile Mill. Ben Hamlin taught a cousin, Thomas Freeman Patterson, to make violins. Freeman’s obsession with this craft took him all over the U.S., hunting violin makers and improving on the art. In 1968 he found I had made an electric guitar and pestered me to keep it in the family. I relented.

My father was an orphan. As an adult, he took apart furniture and bird houses—anything he could get his hands on that his father made—to see how his father did it. He built his first woodshop in 1960 and poured out kitchen cabinets by the hundreds of feet for Pickens Mill Village residents. He also built furniture, bee gums and apple crates for his family and helped restore the Hagood Grist Mill in 1973.

I will start the tour with a look at an oversized jewelry box I made for my wife. Then I will pull out the trestle table my dad built for my mother. I will discuss inlay work and finishes and will share a recipe for varnish that has been in my family for 300 years. I’ll also give an overview of Appalachian style furniture making.”

From Wayne’s studio, we’ll head back to Columbia. This tour was made possible, in part, by Klingspor's Woodworking Shop.

For more information about the tour, visit our website or contact Laura Marcus Green [glaura@mailbox.sc.edu] at 803-777-7707.