Arts and Mysteries began when Popular Woodworking’s editor Chris Schwarz, asked me if I was interested in writing an article for an existing column on hand tool usage called “From the Bench”. Before the first article went to print, Chris had created a monster; a new column with its own name, and a distinctive identity, unlike any previous woodworking column.
Arts & Mysteries was the first regular column about period woodworking in a national woodworking magazine. It was the first column to link a whole year of articles into a single narrative theme. It was also the first time the true subject of each article was purposely concealed in an attempt to get woodworkers to think about woodworking like archeologists think about artifacts they find. The goal was to offer readers the joy of making their own discoveries.
These articles were difficult to write and edit. Each article was essentially two articles. Serious questions were raised whether woodworkers would “get it” or enjoy the format.