William Francis Brown, a native of Chester County, Pennsylvania, learned to work wood from E. Townsend Moore, a former curator at Winterthur Museum and part of a long line of county furniture makers who melded Welsh, English, and Dutch styles. A cabinetmaker for more than 30 years, Brown works primarily with traditional local cherry, maple, and walnut, basing his interpretations on Chester County and Philadelphia antiques in museums and historic sites.
He scours museum archives and studies antiques for ideas, patterns, moldings, inlay designs, and proportions before designing a piece that might take months to finish, depending on the complexity, amount of carving, and other details. He hand cuts dovetail and mortise-and-tenon joints and hand planes and scrapes the wood surfaces.
Brown often uses pigment dyes and linseed or other natural oils to finish his furniture. For table tops he adds thin coats of rubbed shellac or thinned varnish as added protection. He strives to maximize the natural character of the wood, creating a handmade texture and chatoyance on pieces that will attain the patina of originals.
Brown’s work has been featured in Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking, and Woodwork Magazine as well as in exhibits from San Diego, California, to Rockport, Maine. He has won numerous awards including the international Veneer Challenge in 2018 and is recognized as a leading authority on 19th-Century carver Edward Halley Bellamy, of Kittery, Maine. Brown’s versions of Bellamy eagles have sold throughout the world to collectors and museums.
The deadline for submitting entries for the 2021 Directory of Traditional American Crafts has past. All entries we have recevied are being processed and will be submitted to the jurors for anonymous judging. The 2021 Directory will appear in the August 2021 edition of Early American Life. Please do not call us. We cannot report on the status of any particular entry until the Directory is published..
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