Group gives co-founder a ‘humbling honor’

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The Society of American Period Furniture Makers presented Steve Lash, the organization's co-founder, with the 2010 Cartouche Award at its annual banquet Jan. 18 at Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va.

The Cartouche Award is the society's way of acknowledging the contributions made by craftsmen, educators, conservators and supporters, professional or hobbyist, who have inspired or instructed others or who have simply made the world more pleasing as a result of their skillful labors.

"I was kind of overwhelmed. It's really a humbling honor, just to be recognized by your peers was amazing to me," says Lash. "You never know when it is going to happen and Mickey Callahan [the society's president and co-founder] called and said 'I have good news and bad news for you.' The bad news was I was going to have to give a talk at the SAPFM annual meeting. I asked what the good news was and he said I won the Cartouche. I just had to sit down. I probably was emotional for a little bit. The only person I really ever think of is Harold Ionson. Harold has always been the icon I've looked up to."

016_news_desk_2The late Harold Ionson won the Cartouche Award in 2000.

Lash and Callahan first got together in 1999 at the initial "Working Wood in the 18th Century" conference in Williamsburg, Va. It dawned on the two that there were approximately 200 like-minded individuals that were interested in period furniture. They talked, wondered why there wasn't an organization where people could share their passion for 18th-century American-made furniture and the Society of American Period Furniture Makers was born. The inaugural meeting was held in January 2000 at Colonial Williamsburg.

Ten years later, at the 2010 banquet and meeting, Lash and Callahan received Founders Award plaques, which were presented by 2001 Cartouche Award winner John McAlister.

"The Founders Award is an absolutely amazing plaque," Lash says with emotion. "That was a total 100 percent surprise. I had no idea they were even contemplating that. That was absolutely a surprise. They sent this plaque around; Mary May did the carvings, and then I think Bob Stevenson had part of it, somebody else did the gilding on it and somebody else did the engraving on it - it was very cool."

017_news_desk_1From the original meeting between Lash and Callahan in 1999, the Society of American Period Furniture Makers has seen incredible growth, now sporting a dozen regional chapters and more than 1,000 members.

"It's actually beyond belief," states Lash. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that SAPFM would have lasted and also become what it is. The chapters are flourishing and that is where the strength of the organization is going to come from. There is interest from all over the country. Who would have thought?"

Other Cartouche Award winners are Robert Whitley (2002), Gene Landon (2003), Mack Headley (2004), Phil Lowe (2005), Fred Stanley (2006), North Bennet Street School (2007), Alfred Sharp (2008) and Dennis Bork (2009).

For information, visit www.sapfm.org.

This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue.