Philadelphia Exhibit Showcases Women in Woodworking

Erin Irber
Erin Irber

On display at the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia now through January 18, 2020, “Making a Seat at the Table: Women Transform Woodworking” showcases the work of 43 women artists from throughout North America. The first exhibition of its scope, this show shines a light on the skill, innovation and creative vision of women working in what remains a male-dominated industry.

The show includes examples of the artist’s finished work, but also demonstrations of their woodworking processes, which is pretty cool to see. The curators aim to highlight the unique perspectives women bring to the world of woodworking, each one colored by their own cultures and histories.

Gail Fridell
Gail Fridell

All over the country and in all kinds of genres, women are making fantastic work in wood. Understanding that the field has historically been dominated by males, this exhibition intends to showcase some of these women, to show the breadth of the current field of woodworking, and how these makers are both expanding the edges of the field and holding down the center. The exhibition will present a diversity of objects, made with a diversity of intentions—from small-batch products to one-off works, representing a range of technical approaches and scales.”

“Pieces included in this exhibition will reference an approach to woodworking that is rooted in questions of craft, use, the body, and domesticity.”

Kristina Madsen
Kristina Madsen

A book of the same title is due to be released when the exhibition is complete in 2020. If you can’t make it to the exhibition in person, you can find the websites for most of the woodworkers featured in the show at the website.

White Pine Architecture: Beautiful Barns by Keystone

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The versatility of white pine lends itself to all sorts of architectural applications, from crisp modern beach houses and complex ceiling designs in gymnasiums to its more traditional uses in rural New England-style farmhouses and barns. Here are some examples of the latter via Keystone Barns, a Pennsylvania company specializing in custom barns with beautifully finished interiors.

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Many of these barns are built using Eastern White Pine, including gorgeous tongue-and-groove boards that give each structure a warmth and comforting sense of simplicity. Some are left unfinished for a more rustic look, while others are just as lovingly crafted as full-scale houses.

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And if you love the look of barns so much you’d like to claim a livable version as your own abode, Keystone also builds homes with barn-inspired aesthetics. Options include car garages, lofts, apartments and lean-tos as well as barns and sheds designed specifically for livestock purposes. See more at

Architectural Monographs: Moravian Architecture of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

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A religious sect of Germans known as the Moravians purchased five thousand acres of land in the ‘Forks of Delaware,’ founding their first settlement in Pennsylvania in 1740. Deeply spiritual and devoted to their own community, the Moravians established their own particular variety of colonial architecture as they spread throughout the state, building stunning log cabins and stone cottages.

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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was named by Count Zinzendorf, the leading bishop of the Moravian church, in honor of the Christmastime completion of the town’s first log cabin. While quite a few of these buildings still survive today, three in particular are noted in Volume XIII, Issue IV of the historic White Pine Monographs: ‘Brother’s House’, ‘Sister’s Home’ and the seminary.

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These buildings are singled out for being the most exotic, showing “a well-defined architecture of German derivation,” the authors explain. “We are reminded, by the heavy stone and timber construction, the steep roofs with two rows of sloping dormers, and the flanking buttresses, of the medieval buildings of the old world.”

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Read more about the Moravian architectural legacy in this area of Pennsylvania and see detailed images taken in the 1930s at the White Pine Monograph Library.