Hannah is a detail person. She’s focussed on different points of view and made sketches of where she intended and intends to go. This is her first real, independent furniture design and I thought you should see it. Please remember that this work was all handwork and includes for the main part at least using wood that’s been planed by hand and rip-cut using only hand tools. No power routers, tablesaws or planers were used! This was her choice not mine!
Hannah’s time with me fluctuates and she just took a six-month COVID-19 sabbatical from the shop work we have shared about a day or two a week over the last four years. Put that together and she has been apprenticing with me for just about one year full time.
During that time she has done and made many different things including helping me with the classes. I believe this piece exemplifies a woman who has the potential to become a fine furniture maker, a designer and even a leading light to the world of making.
Hannah is also an artist conversant with digital media and sketchbook pencil work. Personally believe that these two are much more essential to today’s woodworker than many might think. In all of the years I have been a designer-maker I have never been turned down after making a simple sketch in the home or office of a client. Why? It’s simple! And this anecdote might help. I met a wealthy client in the office 20 years ago and she had brought with her her architect who had designed a table that wouldn’t work. He was silent! She said, “Why will it not work?
I took an empty coke can and rotated the top counterclockwise as I held the bottom of the can. Of course, the thin walls collapsed and the top and bottom came together. She understood! I then made some sketches resulting in a $48,000 order for a new design. She put down the 50% deposit, I cut the trees from her ranch and six months later I delivered. It was the ability to illustrate in the moment that won the work. Hannah’s abilities to make, sketch and communicate equips her to succeed as an artisan maker in fine arts, I believe.
When senator Phil Gramm came to me over a decade and a half ago he wanted six designs. I have spoken of this before. He’s a high-demand economist and so is his wife, Wendy Lee Gramm. Top and bottom of it is that I drew the drawings in front of him and he left me with a very big deposit and all six pieces to build. Sketches clinched the deal as well as the ability to think in pictures, transfer them to paper through a carbon pencil and work out the time and materials plus profit for six pieces in under an hour.
Then there are the White House pieces for the Cabinet Room of the White House. These stand either side of the door leading to the Oval Office. But that’s another story from 2008/9. It’s definitely one worth telling the whole of though. One day — when I find time!
The most important thing for me has been the ability to convey all that goes on in my head to paper. My book, Essential Woodworking Hand Tools, is my true pride and joy. I took the tools I use and love and depended on for five decades and drew them, along with my own hands on the planes and saws and chisels.
I wanted life in my drawings but then too, in every word I wrote, not the sterility of a computer interpretation, or words from someone else’s writing but from a lived life. These things so dominated the 70s, 80s, and 90s, on up to our era today. Of course, that has drastically changed in the last half-decade, where you can brush and paint and pencil sketch with a ceramic rechargeable pencil as a stylus. This works and I use one of these too. The drawings in my Essential Woodworking Hand Tools book are not digital at all. They were a work of love, as was the whole book.
Oh, we are taking delivery of new stock of the book in another week or two “all being well and the creek don’t rise!”