95-Year Old Chairmaker from Royal Named an Arkansas Living Treasure

The Arkansas Arts Council just sent a great news release about a 95-year old chairmaker from Royal who has been named an Arkansas Living Treasure by the council. Below are more details that they sent on this fourth generation artist. Enjoy!

 

 

Dallas Bump relaxes in one of the Bump Rockers he created. Bump still uses the same patterns and designs that were used more than 100 years ago by his father, Fred Bump. The rocker bases or “runners” of the Bump Rockers are cut on a radius that allows the chairs to rock with very little effort while supporting the back and shoulders.

Dallas Bump relaxes in one of the Bump Rockers he created. Bump still uses the same patterns and designs that were used more than 100 years ago by his father, Fred Bump. The rocker bases or “runners” of the Bump Rockers are cut on a radius that allows the chairs to rock with very little effort while supporting the back and shoulders.

At age 95, Dallas Bump, a chairmaker from Royal, doesn’t have time to sit. He’s too busy making sure that others can sit in his legendary, hand-crafted rocking chairs. The Arkansas Arts Council has named Bump the 2013 Arkansas Living Treasure and will honor him at a reception from 5-7 p.m., Thursday, May 16, at Smokin’ In Style BBQ on 2278 Albert Pike Road in Hot Springs. The reception, sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council and the Department of Arkansas Heritage, is free and open to the public.

Now in its 12th year, the Arkansas Living Treasure program recognizes an Arkansan who excels in the creation of a traditional craft and who actively preserves and advances his or her craft through community outreach and educating others. A distinguished panel of practicing craft artists and community leaders selects the recipient based on the quality of work, community outreach and total contribution to the field of traditional crafts.

A fourth generation artist, Bump has been making chairs for 75 years. The ancient art of chairmaking was passed down from his ancestors who trace their lineage from France. As a young boy, Bump apprenticed under his father, Fred Bump, who learned the trade from his father, Philander Bump. Philander came to the United States from Canada and opened the chair shop with his father-in-law, Wiley Rouse, in 1870 in the community of Bear, Ark., where it still operates today.

Bump runs the Bear Chair Shop with his nephew Leon Sutton, whom he has trained for six years. The shop is a rustic barn where Bump uses many of the 100-year-old tools, patterns and equipment that his father used.

Dallas Bump bores holes in the wood using a boring machine made by his father, Fred Bump, in the 1800s.

Dallas Bump bores holes in the wood using a boring machine made by his father, Fred Bump, in the 1800s.

Sutton selects and cuts the trees, mostly red and white oak, and dries the wood in a kiln. He and Bump turn each piece by hand using a hand-turning lathe and they assemble the chairs one at a time using a unique method that involves no glue or bolts. 

“The side rungs are kiln dried. The posts are half dried so they won’t crack. We half dry the frame. Then we drive them together and they shrink down to make the lock. After about two days, you can barely take a chair apart,” Bump explained. Sutton’s wife, Donna, weaves the seats with white oak strips. She learned how to weave from Bump and his late wife, Amelia.

The most popular of his chairs is known as the Bump Rocker, which is made of red oak and white oak strips for the seat. The Bump Rocker comes in two basic sizes: one for the average size person and an extra-large version known as the “John Lewis,” which will seat up to 350 pounds. Bump also creates rockers for children, stools and a double-seated rocker known as the “Love Seat.” 

His customers come from all over the United States, including such notables as former president Bill Clinton and Governor Mike Beebe. He has exhibited his chairs at festivals throughout Arkansas and the Smithsonian Center for Folk Life and Heritage. He has been featured on Good Morning America and in Southern Living, as well as many local media outlets.

“Making chairs is just something the family has always done,” Bump said. “I still enjoy working at it. There’s always something different and always something new to learn. I don’t know when I’m going to quit. The best advice I’ve ever received is to find something you like and stay with it.”

 

greatmenIn related news, the folks at the Historic Arkansas Museum also sent  news about its new documentary short, BUMP, which  was accepted in the Made in Arkansas category of the Little Rock Film Festival. The film is about Dallas Bump and will premiere during the festival on Thurs., May 16, at 2:45 p.m. at The Rep and screen again on Sat., May 18, at 4:20 p.m. at Argenta Community Theater. Passes are required. For more information about passes, screening locations and schedule, visit the Little Rock Film Festival website: www.littlerock.festivalgenius.com .

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Posted in Arkansas Ouachitas, Travel Arkansas
9 comments on “95-Year Old Chairmaker from Royal Named an Arkansas Living Treasure
  1. Shirley Eidson says:

    My dad and Dallas spent many years working with Fred in the chair shop where they both learned the trade and passed it on to their children…

  2. Phyllis Rickard says:

    Congratulations Cousin Dallas!

  3. Meranda Schedler says:

    I have a chair that Mr. Bump made. My grandmother bought it for me. I still have it today.

  4. Robert Meredith says:

    Would like a on line or mailable catalogue with prices If possible. For personal use initially.

  5. David Walden says:

    Congrats to my cousin whom I have never met on this fine award. I am Abby Bump Walden’s grandson, sister to Philander.Aunt Bertha Brown used to have several of these rocking chairs around her house as I was growing up. I have heard about these folks all of my life but never met them. Again, congratulations sir.

  6. Jim McMains says:

    If anyone knows if any of Mr. Bump’s techniques are published, I’d love to know.

  7. Linda Thompson says:

    I would love to be able to purchase two of these rockers. I have a home in Bentonville Arkansas. Please contact me on at my email address. I know you only make so many per year. So however long it takes, please put me on your waiting list.

  8. Beth Allen says:

    I would like to have one for Christmas

  9. Rena Brown says:

    Can someone email me Mr. Bump’s phone #. I need 6 rockers…Thanks!

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