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SAPFM 2023 Annual Conference

Tryon Palace

For 2023, the SAPFM Midyear conference will be renamed as the “Annual Conference”. It will be held April 28th - May 1, 2023 in New Bern, North Carolina.

New Bern was the colonial capital of North Carolina just as Williamsburg was the colonial capital of Virginia. In the 1950s the governor’s palace, Tryon Palace, was reconstructed.

Adjacent to Tryon Palace is the North Carolina History Center, which will be our venue for all events except the optional Friday and Monday trips.


If you haven’t been to one of the previous SAPFM conferences, here’s what’s in store.

Dan Faia


The conference includes the Friday night reception and banquet where Dan Faia, from Rollinsford, New Hampshire will receive his Cartouche Award. 

On Saturday morning we’ll reconvene at the North Carolina History Center. After a short orientation we’ll divide into three groups and rotate through three 90 minute presentations. This is designed to give attendees an up close look at each presentation.

This year all three presentations will share a common theme. Mary May and Cartouche recipient Ben Hobbs are collaborating on a North Carolina chair. In one session, Ben will demonstrate the joinery and in another session, Mary will demonstrate the carved portions of the chair. The third Saturday session will be by brothers Matt and Calvin Hobbs who will demonstrate how to measure an antique chair for reproduction and an academic discussion of this type of chair.

Mary May

Saturday night we’ll reconvene in the History center for the second reception and banquet. Our dinner speaker will be Robert Leath. executive director of the Edenton Historical Commission and the Elizabeth Vann Moore Foundation. Previously, he served as the Chief Curator of MESDA and Old Salem and as President of the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust. If you join the optional Friday bus trip to Edenton, North Carolina, Robert will be our guide. His banquet topic will be Eastern North Carolina Furniture.



 Sunday morning we’re back in the History Center where author and woodworker Jerome Bias will be talking about how period southern furniture has the potential to tell stories that are powerful and healing. He’ll lead us through a journey of what he has learned about food, family and furniture as he reproduces pieces of furniture from various areas of the South in which his family was enslaved.

Chad Bond, The “Charleston Furnituremaker” will be the final presenter and he will demonstrate finishes; specifically on a Sheraton bed he is currently building in his shop. The formal conference will conclude at this point.

A highlight of the past “Midyear Conferences” has been our optional Friday and Monday tours.

The first trip is on Friday and those who sign up for this trip will venture out to Edenton, North Carolina and beyond to visit colonial-era properties with exceptional furniture and woodwork. First we will visit Hope Plantation (1800) and the King/Bazemore House. The latter sits on the same property and is much earlier. Both have excellent furniture on exhibit. In the afternoon we will go to Edenton and visit the Cupola House (1758) with outstanding woodwork and furniture, dating from 1680 to 1820. The final property is the Piland House (1785) in private hands with a fine collection of North Carolina furniture. Behind the house is the earliest surviving cabinet shop in the state. This will be a full day of great furniture in beautiful houses and a fine way to kickoff the conference. Participation will be limited to forty due to the size of the properties.

The optional Monday trip will start at Tryon Palace in the morning and visit the nearby Foscue Plantation, built in 1824 and still owned and occupied by the Foscue family. It retains a number of original furniture pieces as well as period antiques collected by the family.

Mary May image


Our optional Sunday afternoon speakers are Mary May and Roy Underhill.

Mary May is a professional wood and stone carver and she will demonstrate techniques on how to carve realistic folds and twists in linenfold, swags and drapery. She will also share tips and tricks on how to create the illusion of great depth in shallow relief carving by just a few strategic cuts.

PBS TV star Roy Underhill will be next. Roy’s topic will be: “I’m not a Craftsman (but I play one on TV). Being a Rhinestone WoodGuy is not as easy as it sounds - with every punk with a Stanley 45 trying to take you out!”.


Plans for the spouse programs are still being finalized. Details and cost will be available before registration opens.

Registration will begin on or about Tuesday, February 28th. The registration site will explain pricing for the conference and optional events, and include information on lodging deals with the Hampton Inn and Springhill Suites where we have reserved some rooms at a discounted rate.

The “Midyear” (now “Annual”) Conference has been the highlight of the SAPFM program for many years.  For 2023 the program features a number of outstanding woodworkers and scholars, but even more important, the conference is a chance to meet other members face to face, renew friendships and share our enjoyment of the craft. Attendance will again be limited to 90 to allow for closeup participation in the Saturday presentations. We encourage you to attend, and to sign up as soon as registration opens to make sure you reserve your place at the conference and the optional trips which fill up very quickly.  We hope to see you in New Bern!

The Society of American
Period Furniture Makers
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P.O. Box 379, Williamsburg, VA 23187

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