Stephen Latta, Thaddeus Stevens College
Inlay detail, Pembroke table leg, Steve Latta
Pembroke table, Steve Latta
Kneehole sideboard, Steve Latta
Georgetown sideboard, Steve Latta
Baltimore Card table, Steve Latta
Shells for inlayingfor Sale on very moderate Terms.
In 1795, Thomas Barrett agreed to teach his young apprentice, John Lenox, the arts and mysteries of inlay. Barrett, thoroughly gifted in his trade, executed inlay and marquetry for all of Baltimores leading cabinetmakers. Steven Lattas presentation will explain these arts and mysteries, will show examples of his contemporary methods, and will illustrate how these centuries old techniques are replicated in contemporary Federal style pieces.
The sweeping changes in American Federal period cabinetmaking and furniture styles closely paralleled the emergence of the new nation, leading to an age of the specialist and commerce with gilders, upholsterers, carvers, wood-turners settling into their individual niches. Of all these skills, few generate such awe and bewilderment as inlay, particularly that of the Federal period. Inlay and adherence to the antique, became the model of perfection in furniture and the rage of the new nation, defining the grace and style of these pieces. Its complexities can mystify a modern aesthetic used to machine-made disposable furniture. Professor Lattas presentation will help us understand the use of inlay to create this mode of Federal era furniture, demystify its practice, as well as offer insights into the rich and diverse history of inlay in early America.
Stephen P. Latta is a Professor of Cabinetmaking and Wood Technology at the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He began his professional career as a furniture maker in the 1980s. Having a passion for American furniture, he found his way from Ohio to the Philadelphia area, finding work in shops specializing in the reproduction and conservation of classic American pieces. Furniture of the federal period was just coming into vogue at the time so, with necessity as his guide, he taught himself the essential skills of inlay, marquetry and ornamental veneer work. To strengthen the historical perspective of his work, Latta earned an MA in American Studies from The Pennsylvania State University. Today, he makes both contemporary and traditional furniture while teaching woodworking at Thaddeus Stevens College in Lancaster, PA.
He is a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking magazine and has released several videos on inlay and furniture construction. He has lectured at the Milwaukee Museum of Art, Colonial Williamsburg, Yale University, The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and Winterthur Museum as well as numerous other schools and guilds around the world. Working in conjunction with Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, Inc. of Warren, Maine, he developed the first set of inlay tools available to todays artisans.