Monday, July 19, 2010

Furniture Society, Hand and Mind 2

Asa Christiana, editor at Fine Woodworking asked Do Woodworkers Need the Furniture Society? in a recent FWW blog post, reflecting on his attendance a few weeks back. Due to declining membership and participation, he wonders if the organization is necessary in the first place. Many of the members may be wondering the same thing, but I see vast potential if the Society chooses to make a renewed and enhanced public service commitment to woodworking education.

In the 60’s, I would have taken woodshop, but the choice was college prep or the trades, and never the twain would meet. You would be one or the other, not both, despite the recognition of early manual arts advocates, that working in school wood shop brings intellectual and academic advancement. Hands-on learning in schools would be the cause I hope the Furniture Society and others promote.

One thing I would like to share with members of the Furniture Society and other readers is that building a market for ones work is a process of education. If we don’t have an ongoing process of building knowledge in woodworking, about woodworking, in schools and out, we are allowing the market for our work to shrivel and die. I can tell you as a long time professional, that the customers who have bought my work and sustained my ability to continue growing in my field have been people trained and experienced in the arts, and if that is truly the case for others as well, then the teach-to-the-test, no-child-left-behind philosophy of American education presents disaster for the field. Without experience in making things and knowing the value of skilled craft, the American marketplace will be a very sorry place for anyone to attempt to sell fine workmanship.

So I can see where self-interest in success would push furniture makers toward collective effort in education. If we use the society to share knowledge and skill, some pretty fine things could come from it.


  1. Anonymous5:21 AM

    The Furniture Society is something too important to lose. With my limited skills in making furniture I've always seen it as beyond my level, but I appreciate what they do.


  2. Doug, you know i share your beliefs entirely, and will be establishing a committee for this within the FS as soon as the summer workshop season is over.
    Alf Sharp
    VP The Furniture Society