Wednesday, November 06, 2013

my first read through...

I've made it through my first reading of Peter Korn's new book, Why We Make Things and Why it Matters, the Education of a Craftsman. The book is much more about his life than about the reasons that we make things, and so if someone is not particularly interested in his career as a craftsman and the course of events that led to the founding of the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship it could be less of an engaging read than one might want.

I am convinced that language is unlikely to convey the necessary motivation for one to turn the personal tide of one's life from idle consumer to maker of useful beauty. It takes having had some experience at some point in one's own life to plant the seed of hunger for future creativity. It takes work, after all. It takes long hours, practice and sacrifice, just as Peter Korn describes eloquently in this book.

I had some unreasonable expectations of Korn's book. He is a person I greatly admire. We've talked for years about the books we were writing, and I congratulate Peter on actually getting his done. On the other hand, I was hoping that he would do some of the heavy lifting for me. I would have made the title more insistent.... Why we must make things, for example... our humanity is actually at stake. There are moral consequences to our failure to understand the world through the looking glass that the hands provide. Idle ones are the devil's own. While Korn describes the journey of the craftsman as a journey of transformation, he fails to build a case for its universal imperative.

Today, I applied Danish oil to more boxes. Tomorrow I will spend mostly at the computer, editing chapters of the new box making book.

I have learned that there are still vacancies in my box making work shops in Clifton Park, New York Friday and Saturday, November 15-16, 2013. If you are interested, please contact Tom Moran.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous11:04 PM

    Please, tell us more: What are the moral consequences that you allude to?

    I enjoy your blog and am particularly heartened by your resistance to the proposed placement of the power line through your community.

    Jonathan from Chicago, IL

  2. 2/1 /14 hi doug .. i too have now finished my first read through of peter's book .. while i know him only very slightly, i was interested in what he had to say about making things. leave out the cancer and the founding of the school and the rest of it kind of sums up how and why i have pursued the life of a craftsman .. while i admit to having along the way 'killed some darlings' as he puts it, i have made it through, and continue to happily make custom furniture after 35 years of it. i'm gonna think about all this some more and then try to write a review from my perspective too .. i've got two boys and two other employees just starting their journeys and i look forward to sharing some of peter's relevant perspectives with them. all the best, dan