Written by Susan W. Smith
posted on December 14, 2018 12:44
It starts with a picture on Facebook’s Thousand Islands River Rats Now and Then page, back a couple of months ago. The picture looked like a pattern piece of a men’s jacket –I immediately recognized the material as the Thousand Islands Tartan.
Then like so many Facebook entries, the comments started to come… What is the fabric? What’s this all about? As the days went on readers were privilege to see several more pieces of material with the author Frank Shuttack telling us that he was making a man’s jacket.
Certainly seeing the jacket of the Thousand Islands Tartan take shape and form on Facebook was a thrill, so I quickly asked, “May I interview the tailor?. “An enthusiastic, “Yes!” Was the answer.
I started by making a phone call. Frank Shuttack was friendly, not at all annoyed I was interrupting his day, and I began. He said he was a tailor. He had moved from New York City to Northern New York and he was making the jacket for a client. He also said, quite emphatically that he wants to move to Clayton from Sackets Harbor. In fact, he was certain he would move to the River soon.
Oh, Oh, I thought. I have seen the pictures of Clayton in the winter. I quickly warned him that there would not be much business in January – to which, he was extremely polite in answering… because he explained he makes handmade suits for clients from all over the world, not locally at all. (Luckily, we were on the phone and he did not see me crawl under the desk in embarrassment.)
But my embarrassment quickly turned to “awe” as he mentioned that he was featured on an Anthony Bourdain Raw Craft TV show. And not only that, he was featured on Bourdain’s second episode. At the same time Frank sent a link to an in-depth interview in Keikari.com, Finland’s most popular website on men’s classic clothing. The site’s now translated in English, was founded in September 2008.
In the article we learn Frank began his tailoring career in Syracuse, with the Cesta brothers, Frank and Carlo. It was there he learned the art and tradition of fine tailoring. He then moved to New York City and the shop of Raphael Raffealli.
I don’t want to spoil the show by telling too much of the content. But suffice to say, this editor will welcome one Frank Shuttack to Clayton anytime. He also has a standing invitation to dinner, where I hope I can apologize for doubting for one minute that he is not only a talented tailor - one internationally recognized - but also a most talented artist. A review of his Instagram photographs will show his wood carvings; he calls them Tiny Little Birds.
He also admits that carving and creating these small works of art is a new passion and one he is thoroughly enjoying.
I don’t think that those Facebook readers who enjoyed seeing his jacket take form in front of our eyes, realized, like me, we were witnessing an artist at work.
And… where and when was the St. Lawrence Tartan created? Lynn McElfresh, TI Life’s writer, gave us the history in her “Clan St. Lawrence Tartan” article written in March, 2013.
“Cutting a suit from the most beautiful of tartans. Thank you to the lady at the Thousand Islands Museum for introducing me to the 1000 Islands Tartan.”
Note: Lynn McElfresh’s “Clan St. Lawrence River” written in March 2013 gives the history of this special tartan…
Raw Craft with Anthony Bourdain – Season 1, Episode Two: Frank Shattuck
“Anthony Bourdain and The Balvenie visit the legendary "boxing tailor," Frank Shattuck, in Upstate New York to learn what it takes to create true "bench-made suits." Episode directed by filmmaker Rob Meyer.”
“The Balvenie’s longstanding alliance with craft is a result of the distillery’s dedication to the five rare crafts of whisky making, which allow them to achieve their distinctive taste and exceptional quality. The Balvenie still grows its own barley, still malts in its own floor maltings, employs a team of coopers to tend its casks, a coppersmith to maintain its stills, and has in its service the most experienced Malt Master in Scotland.”
By Susan W. Smith, Editor TI Life, Susansmith@thousandislandslife.com
P.S. Also discovered Frank did a stint as an actor - one of his scenes can be found on another YouTube (Board walk empire – Jimmy takes over Greek Town.WMV)