Artisans of the Valley
Artisans of the Valley is a father & son operation. We are multifaceted, with our mission spanning museum quality antique restoration, period furniture reproduction, woodcarving & sculpture, and original furniture design services.
A master craftsman is a craftsman who owns his shop. Traditionally, years of study from apprentice through journeyman fell between a man's first steps towards learning his skill and the right to open his own business. The process ensured that a man showed mastery of his tasks, before he became master of his shop. Very few craftsman, although a great many skilled artists actively produce their products, have followed this tradition of the past today, Stanley Saperstein is one who has.
Artisans of the Valley was founded by Stanley D. Saperstein around the time our nations bicentennial. The business served as Stanley's creative outlet, a much needed contrast from his beurocratic position that traversed various departments of New Jersey's state government.
The bicentennial surged the popularity of American crafts, emphasizing hand made quality and artistic value. Bicentennial festivals and reenactments of famous revolutionary battles were often populated by sutlers, as well as reenactors. Mr. Saperstein was a regular at these events as both a sutler, and re-enactor portraying a revolutionary war soldier. Artisans produced a variety of period reproductions offered for sale at events, or by custom commission.
Moving to Hopewell Township in 1979 offered Mr. Saperstein an opportunity to expand his home studio, and build a Colonial Cape used as a showroom for his furniture. Since then, hundreds of artistic pieces passed through his shop ranging from classic English Libraries to hand whittled walking sticks.
An avid collector of tools, Mr. Saperstein has configured a complete cabinet shop containing both modern and 18th century tools. His shop boasts perhaps the largest known working collection of hand made carving tools still used to produce furniture today, exceeding that of even Williamsburg.
The 80's brought on the downsizing of crafts, and a vast improvement in Stanley's skill and experience. Artisans commissions then expanded to include libraries and entertainment centers. Always looking for the artistic challenge, Mr. Saperstein offered an alternative to mass production pieces including carving, solid woods, and hand finishing. Although these works kept the shop busy, the chance to work on a true period piece always quickly drew his attention.
Never passing up an opportunity to discuss or share his skills and talents, Stanley took on apprentices over the years as well as seizing any available teaching or lecturing opportunities not only as a woodworker, but also as a historian.
Maintaining his fascination with our nation's heritage past his Masters in History from Rider University, through active participation in Revolutionary and Civil War reenactments, preservation societies, and round tables. He also serves on several museum committees and boards, volunteering much of his time. This interest has opened opportunities to challenge his skills as a craftsman by working on dozens of restoration projects, as well as building his own working reproduction of a 1790 pack howitzer.
Some advice from his son Eric; "If you ask my father a question about woodworking or the civil war, be prepared to spend the next few hours discussing the answer."
Stanley shares his knowledge of woodworking through adult school classes focusing on country furniture reproductions and conservation of homes and farm buildings for Howell Living Historical Farms, lecturing for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, and most recently teaching at Folk Art School. Planning to continue this pattern, Stanley is scheduling time working with local Boy Scouts, as well as offering his services as a guest speaker to schools, colleges, and organizations. Examples of pieces produced through these classes, and information about his programs are available throughout this site.
Stanley's son Eric joined him in the shop from the time he could walk. Handling power equipment before most kids graduated from plastic scissors, Eric absorbed many of his father's teachings. Partnering handle custom built-in projects, and to continuing his apprenticeship in furniture making and design through college and while working full time in Information Technology.
Stanley retired from his career with the State of New Jersey at the close of 2001. Free of obligations, Stanley focuses his attention on his true calling as a craftsman guiding his son through the remainder of his training, while free to pursue volunteer efforts as a historian and re-enactor.
In January of 2002, Eric officially took over the business, recreating Artisans of the Valley as an LLC.
Eric attacked the prospect of new business by creating this website, an entity that now has a life of it's own constantly expanding to show new works and include additional educational materials. Our website presents an 18th century art through a 21st century medium, preserving a window of history for coming generations.
Gaining attention from the local press gave the business a boost kicking off a portfolio project for a local church. The experience gave Eric a proving ground for his Journeyman rights and a foothold into his own reputation as a craftsmen and artist. Featured in our Period Furniture Religious section, and a formal documentary entitled "Creating a Priceless Heirloom."
Since then business has turned into an eclectic array of projects including the Battleship NJ's set of steering wheels, famous chess sets, furniture, museum artifacts, carriages, firearms, carvings, and hundreds of other projects.
Adding a custom configured cargo trailer to the equipment roster increased Artisans ability to provide door-to-door white glove transport of antiques, reproductions, and built-ins.
Still stubbornly inhabiting the original shop, Eric now operates Artisans in the same manner his father did in the past.
Although constantly improving his home to showcase his work, Eric is constantly debating the return on someday moving to a rural property with a large barn converted to the ultimate woodworking and machine shop. Check back, maybe someday this dream will come true.
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