When I think of the many thousands following this blog and the online work we do training through video, I have to say I do feel quite stunned. It’s no small thing that Joseph and I have brought about a training and teaching program for woodworkers and furniture makers that now reaches around the world. We may not have put the brakes on more invasive methods most people don’t really need but we have made a sizeable incursion into helping people see the alternative is not at all primitive but actually advanced. It’s interesting that we have done this by skill–we’ve never taken advertising, sponsorship or ‘free gifts‘ since we began filming my work. You alone have always been enough support and inspiration for us. Sponsors can’t bring
Talking to Joseph this week, discussing the next phase in our vision for training woodworkers, we saw the current completion of various parts in the same way we see the assembled components for a new design coming together on the workbench; the tenoned rails, mortised leg, the drawer sides and raised panels each with the concluded parts fitly framed for assembly like a three dimensional jigsaw but much more complex. It starts out a 3 x 8 beam six foot long and rough cuts downsize it through long rips and eventual crosscuts ready for planing and joinery. Soon the parts become comprehensive–known by their part in the whole–identified. Before long there’s a symmetry to the pieces. Instead of seeing component parts stacked in relative segments you picture the whole as though it is done and together. Pulling all of the design components we jointly envisioned has become multilinear, the composition of a dream that is, like the piece of furniture, becoming the clear and concise reality for craftsmanship to take its rightful place in the future. I believe our vision has differed to all others in this one thing. Craft and skilled work of any kind is best preserved in the lived lives of those who practice it. It has little to do with professional status or indeed any other type of status but more to do with those who love the work. With this alone we have seen the craft hand work in woodworking extend around the world. How happy this makes me.
Over the last few weeks, months and years we’ve been assembling the parts. As it is to those visiting my workshop through the years, what I am making is not immediately obvious until assembly nears completion. It may not have been obvious to you too but bit by bit the component parts have been coming together. Some times the steps seemed insignificantly small, stepping stones if you like, others, for us anyway, seemed such giant ones yet we felt they were too important not to take them. Doing the mental gymnastics to get to the different points seemed far ahead of us but now, here we are. There were the physical obstructions too. A major hurdle was finding somewhere to work where we could really maximise control of our environment. We’d worked through many years subjected to external noises, stray light we had no control over. It was not that we were precious about things, just that a wrench dropped when only one take results in a ruined dovetail can mean retake after retake so it doesn’t spoil the experience for the watcher. Those are the invasive things that happen when you least want them and there are times when there is no way when you are filming that you can recover from them. So a year ago we bought the building to film in. We built our garage workshop in a small corner of it and set up our film studio. This then ensured the future premium crafting of our videos.
Our dream of recent years has been to build what we’ve come to refer to as a ‘houseful of furniture’. By that I mean we would be starting from the ground up to build everything in wood you might need to furnish and supply a home. To do that we would need to start with finding the right house, one we could own, a house we could design for, decorate and furnish from its empty state. After a long search we found the house we felt best suited our ambitions. It’s a fairly ordinary house for ordinary people to live in. People like us. It’s not too big nor too small. With the house as our base camp, we can now plan our new designs, designs perhaps not seen anywhere before, new and modern, traditional, composite designs and not just furniture either. Remember the Eco Bin series, the Lap Top Desk. Coffee table in the living room and then bunk beds for the kiddies. Every stick and stem for any home will come from our garage workshop and the workbench we’ve been encouraging everyone to build. This recent plywood workbench was to help people to join us. Already I feel we’ve stepped up the pace with that move alone. We hope you will join us over the coming weeks and months as we learn together to make our own pieces. Also, a new step for us, we want you to learn how we design each of the pieces we make. We will be discussing these steps too but we want designs that you can adapt wherever possible to suit your own needs in the design of your home pieces. Our long term investment teaching and training others was paying off in the lives of others. I felt the art of hand tool woodworking would now survive. So now we own our studio to film and edit in, our garage workshop within the studio, the ideal workbench in different forms, the actual house we are designing the pieces for, the home garage at the house and staff working hard to back up our vision. This is a new beginning and we will be taking you on the journey with us!