ARL craftsman honored nationally for skill as a traditional artisan

May 15, 2012

Story Highlights

  • David Diaman, ARL WMRD won Directory of Traditional American Crafts competition.
  • Diaman is showcased in the August 2012 issue of Early American Life magazine.
  • Diamon specializes in using specializing tiger maple, figured cherry, figured walnut and figured mahogany hardwoods.

David Diaman, an engineering technician within the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's (ARLs) Weapons and Material Research Directorate's Wood Model Shop, won the highest award as a traditional artisan in this year's Directory of Traditional American Crafts competition, and his work will be showcased in the August 2012 issue of Early American Life magazine. He ranks top in his field according to a panel of national experts convened by the magazine.

The experts—curators from such prestigious institutions as; the National Trust, Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, American Folk Art Museum, George Washington's Mount Vernon, Historic Hudson Valley, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Old Sturbridge Village, Hancock Shaker Village and Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Strawbery Banke Museum, and the Frontier Culture Museum as well as antiques dealers, independent scholars, and professional instructors—selected the top craftspeople working with traditional tools and techniques for the magazine's 27th annual Directory of Traditional American Crafts. Diaman's handcraft showed mastery of the art form, heritage techniques, and workmanship according to the judges.

"Getting the award was very unexpected," said Daiman, who has worked on Aberdeen Proving Ground since 2002. "Only about 10 – 12 traditional furniture makers are selected every year for the award and it is a very good feeling to know I am considered one of the best in America by my peers. Now the challenge will be to make sure I continue to get selected every year for the award."

He entered the competition under his own small, family-run company, Diaman Woodcrafters, which he says focuses on building authentic period furniture and specializing tiger maple, figured cherry, figured walnut and figured mahogany figured hardwoods.

The Directory of Traditional American Crafts is a special listing that appears in Early American Life, a national magazine focusing on architecture, decorative arts, period style, and social history from colonial times through the mid-19th Century. The Directory has been used for nearly three decades by curators at living history museums, owners of traditional homes, and motion picture producers to find artisans to make period-appropriate furnishings and accessories for displays, collections, and use.

"The judges look for authentic design and workmanship, whether the piece is a faithful reproduction or the artisan's interpretation of period style," said Tess Rosch, publisher of Early American Life. "Scholarship, as well as use of period tools and techniques, is particularly valued in this competition."

One goal of the Directory is to help preserve traditional handcrafts, part of our culture that is rapidly being lost in the digital age. Many of these skills were passed down from master to apprentice for hundreds of years, but now few new people choose to learn and master them. "If our traditional arts are lost, we have forgotten a part of who we are as Americans," Rosch said.

"The Directory is a source for collectors and historic museums eager to own fine, handcrafted, period-accurate objects and also a means of supporting those who perpetuate the art forms that are such an important part of our nation's heritage," Rosch said.


Last Update / Reviewed: May 15, 2012