You can use it to hold Christmas cards, arrange pumpkins and gourds in it for a beautiful fall display, line it with tin foil and fill it with candy, or put soap in it to dress up your bathroom. The handcrafted tabletop sleighs made by Roger Allen are useful, make festive decorations and are truly works of art.
Roger’s father was a carpenter, and as a child, Roger used to help him build tabletop sleighs, which were then painted by his mother and sold at church fairs. Years later, during a ski trip with his wife and children, Roger saw a full-size sleigh outside of a business and “something just clicked in my head,” he said. Roger took some measurements and pictures and went home to try constructing his own tabletop sleigh. He took the finished products to a parent/teacher association craft sale and was sold out by noon.
Each part of the sleigh is hand cut so that it’s original and unique. “When sleighs were produced back in the Carriage Era, each one came out a little different. I wanted to keep that type of operation,” said Roger, who is a retired industrial arts teacher and a historian of the sleighing era.
Roger said he can have a sleigh constructed and ready to paint in about two hours. However, the painting is the part of the process that takes the most time. The finish consists of stain and two coats of sprayed lacquer on the runners, and a coat of sanded primer and two coats of color on the box. Roger uses colors that were most popular in the Carriage Era, such as burgundy, black, red and dark green.
Each sleigh is signed on the bottom, and comes with a removable wooden seat and a card that includes historical facts about the sleigh.
Over the years, Roger has brought his works of art to many high-end craft shows. Roger’s booth is always a success because of the uniqueness of his product. People often tell him that they’ve never seen anything like it.
Roger is proud of his work. He pays attention to the smallest details to ensure that each sleigh is of the highest quality.
“If it doesn’t meet my standards, it doesn’t go,” he said.
Visit www.allensleighs.com or call 585-738-7233 for more information.
by Stacy Majewicz