Country Chippendale Mirror

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A complex molding wrapped around a simple reflection

Overall dimensions: 111⁄2"w × 1"d × 221⁄2"h 

In the late 18th century, mirror glass was a coveted home accent, not just for checking one’s appearance, but for its ability to amplify available light and brighten dim interiors. Only the wealthiest could afford large mirrors; ordinary folks were lucky to own a few square inches.

Proud owners would hire local woodworkers to frame their prized possession. Skillfully using materials on hand, these craftsmen tried to replicate the elaborate carvings and exotic woods used on the finest furniture. Their work was later known as Country Chippendale. (Because the glass was worth more than the frame, mirror frames were often replaced to reflect the latest style.)

Living and teaching in Philadelphia, I have a special appreciation for these New World craftsmen. Keeping with their spirit, I built this Country Chippendale frame from curly maple. Unlike some originals, this design will pass the test of time. The mirror can complement a traditional room or serve as an interesting accent in a modern setting.

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