Rothermel shares unique hobby with Rotary

By: Jeannine LeJeune
CROWLEY - Crowley Rotary Club’s weekly meeting returned Tuesday with a unique look at chair making by Dr. Kurt Rothermel.

Program organizer Ann Mire says she’s not sure how the conversation started between Rothermel and herself, but when the two started talking about his hobby, she decided to invite him to speak at a future meeting.

“It’s a good hobby,” he said. “It’s fun and something you can make for the kids or friends.”

Rothermel began his talk by discussing how he started making chairs about 10 years ago. While he and his wife were searching for a dining room set in New Orleans he realize what he was looking for was out of his price range. So he convinced his wife to let him enroll in the Windsor Institute out of Hampton, N.H.

“It’s an amazing place, you see people who have no woodworking experience leave with a chair,” he said.

According to Rothermel, the classes last five days and each person leaves with a chair, sometimes two depending on which class you choose to take. He says he was taught by Mike Dunbar at the Institute.

It would be fantastic if more people around here were into it,” Rothermel said.

“If you’re interested in going, I’ll be glad to go with you,” he joked. “Any excuse to go back.”

He has returned to Windsor several times since that first trip even bringing some of his family members with him. He brought his daughter, who enjoys making arts and crafts, with him on the last trip.

“Windsor is like a second home for me,” he said.

Rothermel says that at this point almost all of the furniture in his home was handmade. He is a fan of Colonial style furniture, but when he finds what he likes it is usually out of his price range.

He also talked about the history of Colonial chairs. Rothermel said that the chairs originated from benches in the Middle Ages.

Chairs was also painted instead of stained because they were made out of three different types of woods–typically, chair backs made of green oak, seat of chair made of eastern white pine and the legs made of maple. In the 1760s through 1790s, green chairs were popular. When chairs were repainted in the 1800s black was a very popular color.

Rothermel says a chair usually takes five to six days total to make, he will spend two to three days building the chair and another two to three days possibly painting it. When he paints a chair he will typically does four coats of paint, two per color.

At the conclusion of the program, Isabella delaHoussaye said it never stops amazing her how much talent, like that of Rothermel’s, lies within the area.

Also at the meeting, three more members were recognized for perfect attendance. Alice Whiting, 15 years; Ezora Proctor, 8 years; and Rev. James Proctor, 1 year.

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