A Sneak Peek at two Arts & Crafts Books

Popular Woodworking Books has two related books publishing later this year, and we thought it would be fun to share a little advance information with you. In the author’s own words, we’ve got a glimpse into what these books are about.

Greene & Greene: Poems of Wood & Light (Available September, 2010)

From author, David Mathias’ introduction to the book:

‘On a beautiful Southern California evening a couple of years ago, I had one of the more surreal experiences of my life. At about sunset, I found myself standing at the front door of the Gamble house, the best-known of a series of significant and wonderful residences designed by Charles and Henry Greene in the first decade of the 20th century. Having rung the doorbell, I waited for someone to answer, to open the door to the most beautiful man-made place I had ever been…¦In subsequent years, I became increasingly enamored of the work of Greene & Greene. Their style began to dominate my woodworking designs and implementations. I continued to pore over books and magazine articles and I continued to daydream, this time of a second visit to Pasadena, the center of the Greene & Greene universe…¦”Does the world really need another Greene & Greene book?” The unspoken subtext of that question goes something like this: “There are already many excellent books on the topic. Do you have anything new to add?” I believe that the answer to that question is “yes.” I submit that there is something new in these pages. [I came to Greene & Greene through my woodworking] I was drawn to their spectacular designs: spare and graceful, with subtle details that define many pieces and, more generally, their style. Woodworkers, even hobbyists like me, develop an eye for details and a curiosity about how those details are implemented. It’s a blessing and a curse (go to a furniture store with a woodworker and you’ll see what I mean)…Think of this book as a guided tour through the Greene & Greene store. There are many photos here of exteriors or entire rooms. What makes this book different, however, is that there are also many photos that focus on details. While the best books on the topic are filled with photos of pieces of furniture, the reader is often left wanting to see more, to see close-ups of inlays, pegs and joinery, the beautiful details that help define what we know as the Greene & Greene vocabulary.’

Arts & Crafts Furniture Anyone Can Make (Available December, 2010)
Anyone? Really? The whole concept of this book traces its roots to one of my favorite woodworking projects. I fell in love with Morris chairs, and eventually ended up building a few. I find them very comfortable. A few years ago, as summer was just warming things up, I wanted to enjoy my deck, but I also wanted the comfort of my Morris chair. Creativity struck, and I spent $40 at the home center store buy one-by dimensional pine. About six-hours later I’d built a Morris chair that would survive (with a good coal of external paint) the outdoors.

If it works for outdoor furniture, I asked myself, can it work for other furniture? Yep. Popular Woodworking magazine (while I was still an editor there) even began running columns called, I Can Do That! The series espouses building worthwhile items for the home with wood from the home center, basic woodworking tools (portable powered tools, generally), and uncomplicated (often screws) joinery.  

Last year it occurred to me that one of my other fascinations crossed nicely with the idea of simplifying woodworking. Arts & Crafts furniture. The straight and simple designs used in this furniture style easily adapts to the dimensional lumber used in the simplified process. It sounded like a challenge, so I offered up the idea. I’ve come up with fifteen projects for the book ranging from mirrors to a dining table, all reflecting influences from existing Arts & Crafts furniture designs. My interpretation of a hall bench I found from one of the smaller furniture companies is shown in this preliminary photo for the book.

I’m enjoying the process, and I believe it will offer and easy entrance to woodworking for the beginner (or weekend woodworker), as well as the experienced woodworker who wants to be creative, without spending massive amounts of time on the project.

- David Thiel

One thought on “A Sneak Peek at two Arts & Crafts Books

COMMENT