Profile of a Craftsman
The Scale Cabinetmaker: 2:2 (January, 1978)
does the average husband become involved in building miniatures? The safest
odds are that his wife's interest in the field preceeded his own. If that
is the rule, then Harry Cooke, whose exceptiona1 craftsmanship is featured
in this issue of TSC, is no exception Visiting Harry and Thelma
Cooke in their home atop a wooded ridge south of Hanover, New Hampshire,
it was our first question: 'When and how did you get started in miniatures?"
The answer should have been plain to us for we had already seen samples
of Thelma's fine needlework.
When Harry retired three years ago
after a career at Kodak, he began casting
about for a retirement avocation that
would keep pace with his restless desire
to be productive. A model ship that was
built in 1932 and now rests on the Cooke
mantle, suggested one direction, and he
began studying books on sailing hips.
After a life time of scale modeling
interest that includes a boyhood
fascination with model airplanes and
eighteen years as a model railroader, the
prospact of building ships was a natural
course. At that point Thelma stepped in
with a suggestion that places the rest of
the miniatures world in her debt: why
not explore miniatures as an avocation in
which they could share their interests and
a thoroughness that characterizes his work as a scale cabinetmaker, he
began by stuying the subject through books on furniture (especially 18th
century styles), museums, and visits to antique shops. After he had produced
his first miniature piece, a 17th century blanket chest, an article in
the May 1975 issue of Antiques Magazine caught his eye: an article on
the Pendleton collection of early American furniture at the Museum of
the Rhode Island School of Design. As his fascination grew, he called
the Museum and through the cooperation of Mrs. Valarie Hayden, Assistant
Curator for Decorative ARts, received permission to visit the museum and
to examine and measure some of the pieces in the Pendleton collection.
This exceptional act of cooperation between the museum
and a miniaturist, coupling the resources of the collection with the talents
of the craftsman, has resulted in the pieces displayed in this issue of
TSC. While Harry Cook has displayed several of his miniatures
at Boston, Ashland, and other shows, a special exhibit at the Pendleton
Collection in Provience, Rhode Island is now being planned, featuring
side by side displays of the prototype and the miniature pieces.
Thanks to Thelma Cooke's suggestion and to Harry's willingness to share his knowlege of the craft, we are all the wiser.
Editor's note: Harry Cooke was a NAME Academy of Honor Recipient
TSC Articles Written by Harry Cooke
- Building a Philadelphia Dressing Table: 2:2 (4-16)