Both Baker furniture and the Labor Day holiday trace their roots to the late 1800s. Then as now, American labor was changing — with hand craftsmanship growing more rare, the demand for creativity more pervasive, and the implementation of technology more important. At Baker our craftsmanship is at the heart of what we do, and the associates who work in our factories are the lifeblood. On this Labor Day, we want to celebrate all of our associates — and introduce a few of them to you.
Sandra Benfield – Master Decorator
Sandra has been painting for thirty years, the last seven with Baker. Her work includes hand-painting and metal leafing, among a number of other inventive techniques. While she might very well have painted your accent table, she almost certainly helped our product designers refine their vision for it — a favorite part of her work. Sandra explains that “Baker finishes are almost entirely freehand, with the emphasis on depth and detail, and no two are exactly the same.”
Sandra looks forward to a little swimming and barbecue over Labor Day.
JB Gesler – Master Carver
While JB studied as a sculptor, he worked in clay, wax, stone, and many other materials — but wood has been his medium over the last fifteen years. His work includes carving the prototypes and creating the models of many of our pieces. Equal part thinker and artist, he sees his role as one of translating an idea into three dimensions.
On artistic perspective, JB volunteers that “Hand carving allows cuts that are deeper and sharper than any machine, but the real advantage of handwork is that it just looks right to the eye.”
On Labor Day, JB plans a relaxing day without labor.
Priscilla Chafin – Repair Technician
After stops at a few other furniture makers, learning multiple roles at each, Priscilla has now spent nine years with Baker. From tooling leather to applying metal leaf, creating fantasy finishes, and perfecting joinery, her versatility is rare even among our often multi-talented associates. What makes that more interesting, however, is her ability to improvise — deluxing items with sometimes limited resources at dealer locations around the world.
When asked what she enjoys about Baker, Priscilla shared, “Quality really matters here. And the thing about quality is that it becomes more and more evident in a piece as the years go by.” Sandra’s favorite Baker line is the Barbara Barry Collection.
She plans to spend Labor Day readying her daughter to start high school.
Gale Jones – CNC Laser Operator
It’s fitting that a 29-year Baker associate operates what might be the most interesting— and quality-enhancing — technology at Baker. In fact, Gale’s work somehow appears on most of the company’s wood furniture. Gale has mastered wood-cutting techniques with the CNC Laser, allowing her to create highly intricate patterns.
Reflecting on the complexity of the tool, Gale said “It took more than two years to learn the subtleties of the equipment, but the result is better and more consistent than even the best hand-cutting of veneer.” Not surprisingly, her favorite item is the iconic (and intricate) Parquetry Pedestal Table from Stately Homes.
On Labor Day, she’ll be celebrating the birthdays of both her father and a brother.
Of course, there are many more Baker associates who make our furniture the finest in the world. We hope they all have a relaxing Labor Day Weekend — and we hope you do, too!