A Visit with the Frid Family

This past weekend I had an amazing opportunity to visit the home of Peter Frid — Tage’s son, and visit with his family.  Beyond seeing some of the many items Tage made it was great to hear stories of what life was like with Tage and Emma from Peter, his wife Kathy, their son Oliver and his wife Cherie.

 

Tage Frid's iconic 3 legged stools and natural edge coffee table

Tage Frid’s iconic 3 legged stools and natural edge coffee table

I was very exited to see Tage’s iconic 3 legged stools in person — building a pair has been on my mile long todo list since I first learned about them years ago. I tried unsuccessfully to see these chairs at the MFA and RISD museum but every time I went they were not on display. Not only did I get to see them, but I got the chance to sit on one of them as well. The stool is very stable and surprisingly supportive given its seemingly diminutive stature. It was also just as comfortable to sit in it facing forward as it was to sit in it backwards. I had read the story about how Tage came up with the idea for the stool while sitting on a fence at a horse show, but it was neat to hear that the reason Tage and Emma were at the show was because Peter and his sister were riding in that very show.

Also shown in the picture above is a very nice natural edge coffee table with inlaid metal that is seen in the Gallery section of Tage’s 3rd book.

Tage Frid's Grandmother Clock

Tage Frid’s Grandmother Clock

In another room was Tage’s famous ‘Grandmother Clock.’ The black and white photos of Volume 3 of Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking do not do it justice as the wood has aged beautifully. Inside the case are all the traditional polished brass movements you would expect to find in a large case clock.

Grandmother Clock and Bar Cabinet

Grandmother Clock and Bar Cabinet

Adjacent to the clock is a beautiful liquor cabinet that is also from the Gallery section of Volume 3. It is made from mahogany and the panel details on the side and top are carved in. The cabinet also has beautiful copper/bronze hinges that pivot on an egg shaped knuckle.

Tage's favorite chair to sit in

Tage’s favorite chair to sit in

Shown above and below is Tage’s favorite chair to sit in. With clean lines, expressed construction, and thickly upholstered cushions I can see why he liked this chair a lot. Like most Danish modern furniture the lines are clean, the details are subtle and piece has a visually light feel.

Expressed joinery and clean lines on this comfortable chair

Expressed joinery and clean lines on this comfortable chair

The profile view reminds me of some cues from a morris chair and the forward lean of the legs reminds me of some of the chrome accents on cars from the 1950s — even while standing still it wants to be moving.

Tage Frid End Table

Tage Frid End Table

The end table above has another great story behind it. In some of Tage’s writings and articles he mentioned the rocky start he had when first arriving at the School for American Craftsmen wherein the facilities were not well setup and some folks were not eager to hear what Tage had to say. One morning while the students were attending lectures with another instructor Tage took a large board and started milling and working it. By mid-day he finished construction of the table and by the end of the day he even applied a scraped lacquer finish. This feat caused quite the sensation at the school and suddenly a lot more folks wanted to hear what Tage had to say as the existing way the program operated would have taken about 2 weeks for students to carry out this work and with inferior finish results. (You can read more about this story and many others in the Smithsonian interview of Tage Frid available online here.). The table has a delicate look that was ahead of its time and has aged well.

Round pedestal table and corner chairs

Circular pedestal pull-out table and corner chairs

In the above photo you can see the circular pedestal pull out table Tage made in Chapter 4 of Volume 3 of his book. The table base has some interesting design details that hide where the table expands from. The book details the intricate and interesting sliding mechanism that supports the removable table leaf. Also shown are some corner chairs with upholstered seats. They are comfortable when sitting upright and support you well even if you sit with a more relaxed or slouched posture.

While not a cabinetmaker by trade I suspect the knack for woodworking and artistic creativity is in the genes as Peter built numerous very nice cabinets and built-ins around the house, including the kitchen cabinets and tops shown in the background of the above photo and a very nice computer desk. Oliver is an art teacher and accomplished painter and you can see some of his work here.

A sampling of Tage's bowl turning

A sampling of Tage’s bowl turning

Tage also did a fair amount of bowl turning especially in his later years. Above are a few samples of his turning work. The large checkered/segmented bowl and blue lacquered bowl in the foreground were two of my favorites. The large salad bow near the top of the photo is also interesting. Rather than create a large tenon or undercut a tenon for use with a bowl chuck it seems that Tage used 4 wood dowels to presumably affix the large bowl blank to a faceplate or similar — thus maximizing the size of the bowl he could get from the blank and also allowing him to easily cut it off of the faceplate when the turning was completed.

Peter Frid (Left) and Oliver Frid (Right)

Peter Frid (Left) and Oliver Frid (Right)

Pictured in this last photo are Peter Frid (Tage’s Son) on the right, and Oliver Frid (Tage’s Grandson) on the left. I want to thank Peter for opening up his home to me, a thank you to Oliver for the introduction and a big thanks to Kathy and Cherie and the whole Frid family for their hospitality and allowing me to poke around admire some of Tage’s work. It was an inspirational visit and reminds me how I need to get back out into the workshop and finish off my Frid inspired workbench.

Take care,
-Bill

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about Tage Frid and his work, please check out my earlier post about him here.

P.P.S I also got to see some of Tage Frid’s workbenches and will be exploring those more in a future post.

 

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Categories: Fine Woodworking, Historic Places, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “A Visit with the Frid Family

  1. Thanks for this very nice visit with the Frid family. Quite enjoyable.

  2. Sara Chase

    Cannot see where a third leg hits the floor! (Great piece, Bill)

    Sara

  3. Bill Bissell

    I was a neighbor of the Frids for 12 years and have a lot of fond memories of that time – and of more recent ones with Peter & Kathy. Tage’s attributes went well beyond “making sawdust” (his description of his profession). His sense of humor (tending towards ribald) was the most prominent trait followed by his cooking skills. When describing a class in furniture making that he had given Ex-President Jimmy Carter, he complained (tongue in cheek) that his compensation had been “peanuts” (for those too young to remember, Jimmy Carter had been a peanut farmer before president). And the meals that he and his fellow men (no women allowed in those pre-PC days) in their cooking/eating group prepared were epic. Each member made one meal each year with no help from the others. And they all tried to improve on the previous show. I had the good fortune to attend two of them and they were indeed shows. It was unusual to sit with men only, some quite burly and others very refined, and eat an incredible meal accompanied by wonderful wine and ample humor.

    And a discussion of Tage would be incomplete without mention of Emma. They were a team. Sometimes at a social occasion Tage might do or say something that Emma did not find proper and she would make a brief comment (in Danish) and Tage would change his behavior quickly. I witnessed one time when he did not. They were at a party at my house and somehow he found himself in the lab of my Mother (a 1st generation Swede about his age). Emma commented on his behavior (in Danish) and he answered back (in Danish)! And remained in my mother’s lap. My father, who was there also, considered this normal party activity and was unfazed.

    Back then I was a jogger and on my return leg one day I saw Tage in the front lawn of his house. It was quite a distance away and I would be out of sight briefly behind a large fir tree. It was also the time when “streaking” became popular so when I got behind the tree, I removed my clothes and continued my run home, naked. Unknown to me, Tage had called Emma and so when I passed their house, the two of them got some unexpected entertainment. Later Tage made some unflattering comments about my….. well, if you knew Tage, you’d know what he said.

    Beautiful people. I’m so happy to have known them.

    Bill Bissell

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