Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Woodworking in America - an approach

I believe that Popular Woodworking's Furniture Construction and Design Conference can lead to a big pay-off for the home base woodshop.

This particular conference enables the home based woodworker to be exposed to a multitude of furniture form. It is important to establish the home gamer in an environment where the internet woodworking movement can be evaluated and critiqued. This conference is the first setting where creativity rather than "how to..." will be addressed.

Observing how the conference is being advertised, one point lacking was to present an approach that an attenddee might use.

In full disclsoure, I will not be attending the conference but believe it could possible be extremely beneficial to the internet woodworking community longterm and want to support this conference as best I can.

Formats available: Quicktime (.mov)


PMF2000 said...

Yours is a voice that we don't get to hear from nearly enough. What a nice surprise I had when I refreshed iTunes today! Very cool stuff as always.


David Pruett said...

Neil –

Wow! That was an absolutely excellent video segment.

You offer a real treasure for those fortunate to attend the conference, a unique perspective and insight to get the most from the conference offerings. I truly appreciate your advice. Be curious, open yourself up to form and ask questions. I only wish I had a chance to attend!

It is always a pleasure to watch your passion and enthusiasm. I would say this time, in this short video segment, you have truly out done your self. I must admit to a certain fascination in the way you effortlessly discuss design, form and inspiration all the while tying it up in a tidy package with fluid references to lineage of furniture designers and styles.

It is a shame you won’t be attending the conference. I suspect you will be a missing peg in the foundation of an otherwise well designed conference.

It will be exciting to see how the woodworking bloggers that do attend will present the conference.


The Dovetail Kid said...

Now that's a great video Neil!

I'll need to listen to it another dozen times to catch all the names and look them up, but that's another story...


Neil....a Furnitologist said...

I appreciate ALL your comments.

You who know me, understand that I've fealt this way all alone about the Internet woodworking community's home base shop.

If you think about it, because of economics, the idea that garage and basement shops would be the place where creativity in furniture design would sporn is, rational. We are the prototype shops.

But like anything, there has to be an intellectual component before a movement evolves. I know the intent of the conference is not this big a vision, but it could be the vehicle longterm to provide the thoughtful discussion needed to stir an art section reporter to write and be considered the identifier of a movement.

So much would have to happen: a vocabulary, you would need more of the splinter groups coming together for instance like the group running the Hand tool Olympics, etc. Unknowingly there are things in place and more could occur.

Much more needs to happen, like you all, I'm just as curios to see where this conference goes. I don't include the "How to..." conference in this thought, but that's for another time.


Mike Lingenfelter said...


I really love your insight. I know you haven't been posting a lot lately, but I would love to hear more from you. You have a depth of knowledge that needs to be shared. You mentioned several woodworkers I hadn't heard of. Now I have to go research them and learn more :).


Mike said...

Do you have some recommended reading material so I know who all those people you mentioned are? I caught a few.. but seems like some more research is in order about furniture styles and key players. My Amazon cart awaits your direction.

Thanks. And thanks for the passion.

Ronaldo said...

Great post Neil, I'll try to write down a 'real' comment later (short coffee break at work.)

Really liked the line about every person being a designer.

For the dovetailKid: the names are
Constantin Brâncuşi and Isamu Noguchi. Good browsing ;)


Neil....a Furnitologist said...

Mike....regarding reading material, there is no magic bullet, and I'm not sure what is in you library now. You need to start with a good text with historic perspective. The text Furniture by Judith Miller is excellent not for its text but for its pictures. Once you see a period or a style or a combination of what you like, then go to that specific period and investigate and study the FORM. The text only gets interesting after you've become intrigued by a Form. background started on the shop floor, so I had to become aware of individuals early on in my career, just in preparation for interviews. When I moved into furniture lines, I had to become familiar with who was who and know that our occasional pieces were being shown with Milo Baughman because if I'm shcmoozing to get another piece on the floor I wanted to be conversive if Paul Evans walked into the show room. What I'm saying is we are all finding a form differently.

This conference is going to be an excellent jumping off point for those who are open to new design elements. We have a tendancy to just look at wood, but it is really about materials and how to use them, but if you are flipping through a picture book and you see Mies van der Rohe, don't stop looking because it has metal, study the form and investigate the period in time. This will lead you somewhere else, that eventually leads back to your material of choice.

There's a small book I like by Fiona and Keith Baker, again good pictures and better text than Miller, called "C20th Furniture".

Mike....very difficult to recommend books. A Woodworker's library builds over time and tells just as much as the furniture built. My library is extensive and now to the point of specific manufacturing processes to interior decorating elemenst that maybe able to be applied to furniture.

If you prepare for Oscar Fitzgerald, you need to be ready for when he switches gears into Studio Furniture, go to the Renwick Gallery website as part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and prepare yourself for the visual, the color, the FORM. Don't stop at "I wouldn't have that in my house" who cares if you would or not, maybe there is a detail you like. But you have to see it first.

Mike if you have a specific question in preparation e-mail me.
I can always bring it back to the blog for others.

Also, David Pruett knows where I'm coming from, click his name and ask him his approach. His study is interesting but more importantly different, ask him on his blog what he would do.


rwyoung said...

Neil -

To your comment about taking it all in and learning :
The Zen concept of Shoshin (Beginner's Mind, just screams out to be acknowledged... Yep, an odd (ironic?) pairing, screaming and Zen, but you get the idea.

Still just soaking it all in, waiting for the magic moment when I reach saturation.

Oh, and I'd be interested in hearing about bent laminations as part of G&G. I think I can see a bent lamination version of a cloud lift...

Neil....a Furnitologist said...

Rob.............think of the verticals components.

Shannon said...


As always your passionate oratories leave me reeling. I watched this and purposely refrained from commenting until I attended the conference. I promise to personally take to heart your challenges to the bloggers to cover the conference with an open mind. I will add to that Jerry Grant's thoughts on the Shaker lifestyle. I plan to cover this with a "singleness of heart" bent towards expanding my horizons.

The conference was truly amazing! I belive many expected more of the "how to" approach to design as did I. I was surprised to find the approach was very different: more akin to a collegiate lecture. Instead of telling us, "here are the x elements of x style" each session was an exploration into the time period and surrounding events that shaped the design. I found myself learning more about history than furniture. Much attention was paid to the manufacturing business of the design as well which I think is indicative of our presenters not just being woodworkers, but also businessmen who had to figure out how to make a design reality on a more than one off scale.

Today I releaseed, my first discussion on the conference with my synopsis of Shaker furniture. I struggled with this episode as I wanted to recount the events as best I could but it was hard to encapsulate all the ideas that Jerry Grant cultivated in me. I plane to release 6 or 7 more episodes detailing more of the classes I attended. Stay tuned and I can honestly say that I sincerely missed you being there. More than once I thought to myself, "Neil would love this"

Neil....a Furnitologist said...

Shannon........I appreciate your comment here and Thank you!!!!

I've been following your WWIA coverage with the audio-boo's and look everyday to pleaseantly see something new on the conference.

Hey Guys.....Go to:

and follow conference cover from Shannon:

The Renaissance Woodworker's

point of view.

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