Meeting Glen Rundell
I had the great pleasure recently of having Glen Rundell, a chairmaker and teacher from Australia, come to my shop to learn how to build a 3-slat post & rung side chair. Glen took his first chair class with Curtis Buchanan in 2009. It was life-changing experience that directly led him to leave his job of 18 years in Melbourne, sell his home in the suburbs, and move himself and his family to the Victoria Central Highlands town of Kyneton where he began making Windsor chairs to sell and teaching others how to build Windsor chairs and Shaker boxes. To further diversify his business Glen and his wife, Lise, also sell local handcrafts and on Friday and Saturday nights empty all the tables and open a wine bar called The Chairmakers Wife that sells local wine and cider. In an unusual twist the bar is BYOF, or bring your own food. Glen is the bartender. As if Glen weren’t busy enough this past March he and Lise promoted the Lost Trades Fair which had 35 participants demonstrating and selling hand made crafts including coopering, chairmaking, tool making, fletchering (arrow making) and many more skills that are in danger of dying out. The Fair was a great success with 7,500 visitors to this town of 6,000. Plans are underway for a second Fair in March 2015 with 100 participants.
Glen Takes a Class with Pete Galbert
Sometime after Glen’s class with Curtis he also took a class with Pete Galbert, the well-known Windsor chairmaker, tool designer, and soon to be author. Glen began this trip to the U.S. by visiting and staying with Pete in his Sterling, Massachusetts home. During his visit he got to hang out with Pete, visit the home of tool seller Patrick Leach, attend a huge flea market in Brimfield, Mass., and even spend two days in Maine at the Lie-Neilsen Open House rubbing shoulders with woodworking luminaries.
While I was communicating with Glen about his class I suggested that while he was on this side of the world we might want to take a trip down to Asheville, North Carolina (only 400 miles from my shop!) so that he could meet Brian. That was the beginning of what turned into a five day, 1,500 mile tour of chairmakers, toolmakers, teachers, and even a sawyer, in Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Before departing Glen needed to box up his chair for the flight home. Because it would be too expensive to ship an assembled chair back to Australia, he decided to leave his chair in parts and assemble it himself at home. He still got to experience the assembly process by watching my other student, Tony, put his chair together. And he got to weave a hickory bark seat on one of my chairs that needed a seat. Here is Glen with all of the finished parts of his chair ready for packing.