Palmer Sharpless papers
Held at: The Center for Art in Wood [Contact Us]141 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the The Center for Art in Wood. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Palmer Sharpless (1922-2002) was an American woodworker and woodturner. He taught woodworking for 38 years at George School (a private boarding and day school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania) and was a founding member of the American Association of Woodturners.
"Born in Moorestown, N.J., Mr. [Palmer] Sharpless was a graduate of Westtown School Class of 1940 and a graduate of Penn State University Class of 1943. Mr. Sharpless [had] been a resident of Newtown [Bucks County, Pennsylvania] since 1946 and was the former Head of the Department of Arts at George School in Newtown where he taught woodshop, graphic arts, technical theater and drafting for 38 years [(1946-1984)], and was instrumental in the development of the arts programs.
"Palmer was a member of the Newtown Friends Meeting and its Building and Grounds Committee, a founding and honorary life member of the American Association of Woodturners, a juried member and 3 term president of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, a charter member and past president of the Bucks County Guild of Craftsmen and a Board Member of the Pennsbury Manor Society where he and his wife Joan demonstrated and made his finished products available for the Pennsbury Manor Gift Shop.
"Mr. Sharpless was also a life member of the Delaware Valley Wood Carvers Association, a founding member of the American Association of Woodturners where he orchestrated many symposiums for woodturners. Up until his passing, Palmer worked from his Newtown workshop spending his time preparing commission pieces, custom turnings for local furniture manufacturers and specialty home builders, craft sale pieces, architectural turnings and wood turned bowls and vessels from various local woods."
Palmer married Joan Paulhamus in 1944 and they had five children. His work is owned by British royalty, and was commissioned by businesses such as Tiffany & Company. Sharpless also turned 100 pieces for the restoration of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pa. In 1976, along with Albert and Alan LeCoff, Sharpless initiated a symposium series focusing on wood turning and training. The symposium led to the establishment of the American Association of Woodturners and The Center for Art in Wood. George School, where Sharpless taught, hosted the symposium.
Quoted text from: Joseph A. Fluehr III Funeral Home, Inc. "Palmer M. Sharpless Obituary." 2002. Accessed May 15, 2014. http://legacy.fluehr.com/obits/2002sharpless.html.
Lucuski, Cristina. "A Tribute to Palmer Sharpless - Teacher, Craftsman, and Mentor." Georgian 75, no. 1 (Winter 2003) : 1. Accessed on May 15, 2014. http://www.georgeschool.org/NewsAndEvents/~/media/Files/News%20and%20Events/Georgian/PDFs/web_v75n1winter03.ashx.
Shafer, Lisa. "One Man's Life Of Working With Wood: The Fruits of Palmer Sharpless' Labor Are On Display." The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 18, 1998. Accessed May 15, 2014. http://articles.philly.com/1998-01-18/news/25750801_1_woodworking-woodturners-student.
This collection consists of five of Palmer Sharpless' sketchbooks, circa 1970-1995; several photographs; and a few framed items. Sharpless' sketchbooks contain client names, sketches of designs, plans for works, and other information. The photographs are of Sharpless and other subjects related to his work. Among the framed items is a lifetime achievement award from the American Association of Woodturners, which Sharpless received in 1987.
The Center for Art in Wood also owns some wood pieces crafted by Sharpless and several of his woodworking tools.
Gift of Sharpless family, 2003 (accession 2003.12.31.003G).
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact The Center for Art in Wood directly for more information.
- The Center for Art in Wood
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact The Center for Art in Wood for information about accessing this collection.