The Deeper Look into Wood by Nick Kotula


Well-known member

The following was emailed to me by Nick Kotula:

Will you please send this notice to all the New England Chapter of the Society's members . Not every one reads the Forum. Think about coming to this course. Most of the people who will buy your $ 20,000 to 30,000 furniture will have learned this in college courses. They will judge you on what you know and say. This knowledge is different than what is publicly known.

Mrs. Catie Curran and can be asked about the last course that I taught. She was amazed by how little the modern furniture makers know about wood.
Hope you can come to this course.

I give other courses, such as: The Deeper Look into Wood, The Deeper Look into the Physical Properties, Structural, Design, and Design Principles in Creating Furniture, The Five Orders of Classical Architecture, etc.


Knowing the different Period Styles and their history will help you understand furniture in a new light. Each Period Style has its own vocabulary. There has to be a symbiosis with all the elements. When building furniture, one must be aware of how the finished product will look to those who are looking at it. Appraisalers, dealers, and collectors also need to master this knowledge.

Learning to build furniture is not the whole story. It is as important to learn to see. What is the piece of furniture saying to you? What is the furniture not saying to you. Why is one piece more appealing than another? Learning to see is so important that every beginning drawing class starts with this concept. Seeing is one of the most important components of creating art.

After lunch we will go to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art to study furniture and to understand how each Period Style gives each piece a different look. We will explore what each piece is saying to us. You will see furniture in its true light. If you are a furniture maker this is your chance to learn to make your own furniture sing!

Here are a few thoughts to ponder: What were the social, political, economical, and intellectual changes that were occurring in Europe and especially in America from 1620 to 1840. Think about what the social history of of the northern colonies in America was and how it evolved. How the merchant class evolved and how and why they expressed it their home furnishings. These changes influenced how furniture looked and used. After the completion of this course, you will certainly understand furniture better.

Here is the list of what you should bring:

A pen, tablet, and a stiff pad to use under the tablet because every one will be sitting in side chairs in a half circle around me.
Bring a 10X lens, and a pen light.
Bring your snacks, coffee, water, and anything else you will need.
The course in the morning will be held at the Stanley-Whitman House and Museum, 37 High Street, Farmington, Connecticut.
Park only on the Museum side of the road.
The course will start SHARPLY at 9:00 AM and continue until about 4:00 PM. Do not be late.
We will eat lunch at Panera?s at Bishop?s Corner in West Hartford at the corner of North Main Street and Albany Road. (You buy.) After lunch, we will go to the Wadsworth Atheneum and study what each furniture is saying or not saying to us and why it looks that way. Each piece has a lot to say to us if we will listen.

Parking is free on the streets in Hartford on Saturdays and Sundays. Because we are a group the admission to the museum is only SEVEN dollars.

FEE  $ 275.00 First come, first served. No refunds after January 12, 2013. After January 12, 2013 if you can not make it, find someone to take your place. There is a maximum of 12 participants so that everyone will feel free to ask questions.

Send your check to:
Nickolas Kotula
493 Simsbury Road
Bloomfield, Connecticut 06002- 1512
phone:  860 243-1646

My email is: [email protected]

Call me when you send the check so that I can call you back if I do not receive it.

If you have any questions about the course, call me from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. 

Last month a budding furniture maker unfamiliar with Period Styles and I went to the Atheneum. At 125 feet away from the Aaron Chapin Neoclassical sideboard I asked him what did he see. Without giving him any leading questions he made nine valid observations. You will be able to do the same. It is called the art of seeing.

Unsolicited comments from my last course:

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed meeting you and how much I got out of our class on Saturday.  By recognizing the lighter lines of the terminal parenchyma I have already determined, without a shred of doubt!, that a serpentine 4 drawer chest that my wife inherited is not walnut (as previously thought) but mahogany.  I look forward to attending some of your classes in the future.  Please keep me on your email list.
      Charlie Woodworth

I just wanted to let you know I thoroughly enjoyed your wood Id class and am looking forward to other classes you offer.
Doug Smith

Nick Kotula has studied wood under a microscope at two different courses at the University of Massachusetts with Professor J. Bruce Hoadley. Besides being an expert in antique furniture as a conservator, appraiser, consultant, and teacher; he was the last apprentice for the widely known Nathan Margolis Shop in Hartford, CT. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BS Mech. Engr. Degree and studied furniture conservation at the Conservation Analytical Laboratory of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. He is a furniture conservator for museums and serious collectors. He has taught Wood Identification and other courses all over the United States. In addition, Nick has studied extensively Art History and Studio Art at the University of Hartford, CT.