Gazette Archive 3/27/01
A Book Review by Franco Clements
Title: In The Craftsman Style
This collection of articles is another credit to the long line of excellent Taunton publications. The editors spent their time well introducing and arranging the articles in order to lead the reader to an almost foregone conclusion that he can and will make something in this family of sturdy furniture and it will be good. In my experience, it is an exceptional approach for a how-to book to incorporate the history and philosophy along with the drawings and technical advice. This adds a helpful context and ammunition for reasoning-out ideas in the sometimes frustrating design process. Then add to this, a final section with photos and maker quips set to inspire and motivate one to get out there and create. I found this refreshing and far more engaging than the usual how-to.
And if you intend to build any craftsman style furniture, do yourself a favor and include this book in your research. The variety and scope of the articles allow anyone to gain a foothold here. The projects range from a simple wall cabinet to a subtle coffee table to a complex sideboard complete with inlay. The novice can learn techniques to accomplish tasks more easily. Those with some experience can grab a peek at the whole design/making process. The seasoned maker can find a few clues to improve his work further, while all readers will be inspired at the subtle grace and art involved in these often massive pieces.
Each maker represented here deserves respect for his (or her) insight and individuality within the broad form of Arts and Crafts. They all share their viewpoints and grant the rest of us the freedom to make what we will-- and not be bothered in the least that we did or did not copy directly from an historic example. Borrowing a little here and there seems to be a common denominator for these guys, a fact which holds true for the over all tradition of "furniture for the common man." But, it is probably the uncommon one that will actually get out there and make himself and his family a substantial piece of furniture. If you need a push to get going, this book may be for you.
Editor's Note: The Taunton Press has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Thank You! And you can usually find their titles at their website or at a discount from Barnes And Noble.