Pete Baxter, a first-generation woodworker specializing in Shaker chairs, small furniture and oval boxes, is self-taught in both mediums. His interest in Shaker furniture started in undergraduate school with an elective course on Shaker life, and he later discovered a love for making his own handmade wooden pieces in the same tradition of simplicity, durability and functionality.
Following the Shaker woodworkers’ swallowtail design of refining and strengthening his pieces with pointed joints, Pete creates tinder boxes, keepsake boxes, sewing carriers, chairs and other specialty items at his Seymour, Indiana, workshop in a building constructed by his maternal grandfather in the early 1950s.
The 700-square-foot white block building is situated on a small rise overlooking the remnants of a once two-story horse barn that now serves as storage for stickered maple, walnut, and cherry boards. The building originally was a small cottage built for Baxter’s newlywed parents. Once located in the “country” outside Seymour’s city limits, Pete says time and city growth have reached to and beyond his small workshop.
Today, in addition to making his products available for sale at various Shaker museums in New York, Kentucky, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the lifelong Seymour resident operates the Pete Baxter Shaker Craftsman Gallery, by appointment only, in the heart of historic downtown Seymour.
While his creations are Shaker design, Pete adds his own interpretation to create one-of-a-kind, handcrafted works of art using select hardwoods, like cherry, maple and walnut. He says each piece has a purpose and original look.
Pete’s work has earned membership into both Indiana Artisan and Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsman. For eight consecutive years, his work has also juried into Early American Life magazine’s Directory of Traditional American Crafts.
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