Daniel Van Allen
2006-07 Folklife Apprenticeship Award recipient
As a young artist living in Washington, D.C., Daniel Van Allen crossed paths with a furniture restorer, and was taken with the beautiful color palette and tools carried by the artisan. Soon, he got a job doing furniture touch-ups with the Reliable Furniture Company. This small, regional chain would send a touch-up person, such as Daniel, with furniture deliveries to fix the minor nicks and scratches that often occur during furniture moves; an artist with a paint set was cheaper than delivering an entirely new piece of furniture.
Daniel eventually opened his own shop in D.C. Then, from 1976 to 1978, he apprenticed under a master furniture restorer in Italy, learning traditional methods in furniture restoration, from making his own shellac to French polishing.
Returning to D.C., Daniel took on more furniture restoration work, and also deployed his skills in a partnership with a ship carpenter in Annapolis. In 1981, he moved to Baltimore, where he still makes his home. In his Southwest Baltimore workshop, he handles almost any furniture restoration that comes his way, from minor paint touch-ups to full conservation work.