Dying Arts and Mysteries? I don't think so.
Writing for PW is really cool. People I tell about it often ask whether I feel great about seeing my name in print or the validation of being published. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but the answer is no.
I enjoy the challenge of researching articles and trying to bring something fresh to woodworkers. I enjoy the job of writing.
But there is one incidental benefit that I really like. I like meeting with woodworkers, getting emails about what you are doing, where your interests lie, and trying to help answer your questions. This has allowed me to be privy to the greater trends and market forces. Because this incidental benefit is inevitably paid for by you Arts and Mysteries readers, I felt it was my responsibility to share with you what I’ve learned:
I exhibited my wares at a craftshow recently. During a slow period, a few other crafters visited my booth to chat. Each bemoaned the demise of craft in America.
While I was sympathetic, I felt it was also my responsibility to share with them my perspective. I’m seeing a great resurgence in traditional craft. More and more woodworkers are using traditional tools, liking them, and becoming more interested in traditional techniques, traditional joinery, and even traditionally styled furniture. Never before has there been so much information available, or such high quality tools. 10 years ago, you’d have been hard pressed to find a good western dovetail saw. I count 3 or 4 extraordinary saws on the market today.
Woodworking is a solitary activity. Most of us work alone. But I have a different perspective. What I want you to know is:
1) You are not alone. You are part of a large movement of woodworkers exploring traditional techniques and discovering the lost arts and mysteries.
2) You have brought this about- by the choices you’ve made in books and magazines, tools and even the projects you’ve taken on. You are shaping woodworking’s future, and in my opinion, for the better.
And there’s something I would like you to do for me: I would like you to start seeing yourselves as part of a community. Don’t quibble with each other on the internet. Help each other. Also, recognize that the work you are doing is important. Take it seriously and share it with others. Share what you’ve learned and you’ll inspire others with your efforts.
I think in 20 years time, we’re going to see a return to craftsmanship the likes of which we have never seen before. I don’t believe the attitudes required, attention to detail, a certain process orientation, a pride in manual labor, are going to stop with woodworking. A new day is dawning. You are not only part of that. You are responsible for it. Enjoy it.