Wharton Esherick's ingenious trap door
Wharton Esherick Museum

Wharton Esherick built his studio, its furniture, and objects down to the utensils, by hand over a 40-year period starting in 1926.

Photo By Charles Uniatowski, Courtesy Wharton Esherick Museum

Wharton Esherick was famous for his handcrafted furniture often featuring natural edges and sculpted details. The Pennsylvania-based artist built his studio, its furniture, and objects down to the utensils, by hand over a 40-year period starting in 1926. A new program by Craft in America takes you inside his home and studio.

View the bonus clip below of Esherick's trap door, which he jokingly named after his twin sister "Dottie," because she was always "hanging around."

The new Craft in America season episode also features: Syd Carpenter honoring African American growers through her Farm Bowls series; curator and ambassador for craft, Helen Drutt English; craftsman and Ojibwe tribal member Biskakone Greg Johnson; North House Folk School; and architect and educator Sim Van der Ryn & the Outlaw Builders.

The program hosted a live screening of featured Philadelphia artists at the CraftNOW Symposium, Nov. 11, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia. Watch the full episode online.

Craft in America is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit arts organization founded in 2004 with the mission to promote and advance original handcrafted work through programs in all media. The Peabody Award-winning, Emmy-nominated Craft in America documentary series first aired nationally on PBS in 2007 and has produced twenty-seven hour-long episodes to date.

These programs are filled with artists, techniques, and stories from diverse cultures, blending history with living practice. In addition to the series, Craft in America’s organizational efforts include pbs.org/craftinamerica and craftinamerica.org, a YouTube channel, multi-disciplinary educator guides that adhere to national standards, and the Craft in America Center in Los Angeles. All of Craft in America’s multimedia educational content is provided to the public at no charge.

Learn more at craftinamerica.org.


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William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.