With the promotion of Megan Fitzpatrick to editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, I have been besieged with e-mail about what this means for the future of the magazine.
My response: Do I look like a redhead?
So I decided to ask Megan about her plans for the future editorial content of PWM. Here is an abbreviated transcript of our conversation as she was driving us both to Columbus, Ohio, Saturday morning to speak to the Woodworkers of Central Ohio club.
Chris: So one of my favorite internet comments about your promotion was this: “Great, now it can be a mediocre magazine with a feminine touch.” How does that make you feel?
Megan: Well they are half-right. It’s going to be an excellent magazine with a feminine touch.
Chris: Uh, really? What do you mean by that?
Megan: Our demographic data shows that more than 90 percent of our readers are men. If we can add women to our subscription base, we’ll be expanding the craft, instead of just pandering to the same customers we’ve served for years.
Chris: You’re going to attract female readers to the magazine? How?
Megan: I call my program: “Put a Heart on It.” We’re going to ensure that 20 percent of the projects in the magazine incorporate a cut-out of a heart, a goose or a pineapple (which as we all know is the universal symbol for unbounded hospitality). If this program works, I’m also working on proposals for “Add a Drawer for Doilies” and “Secret Compartments for Feminine Products.”
Chris: You lie.
Megan: No. I’m serious. Chuck Bender’s upcoming William & Mary spice cabinet will have a scrollsawn heart nestled into its tombstone door. Chuck – always a team player – has also agreed to some tole painting on the interior.
Chris: Tole painting?
Megan: You know, small images painted in oil paints using a palette of soft pastels. I think Chuck said some gnomes in Elizabethan outfits could adorn the drawers. Perhaps a gnome with his pants down could be on the inside of the secret drawer behind a Quaker lock.
Chris: Wait. Wait. What do the other editors think of this? Bob Lang? Steve Shanesy? Did you run it by them?
Megan: Au naturellement. Bob has a ponytail. Steve has a beret. They are actually much more in touch with their sensitive sides than you ever allowed them to be. They…
Chris: You are totally making this up.
Megan: I say this without any prevarication.
Chris: Wait. I have to look that word up.
Megan: I also plan to reverse the years and years of the patriarchal, hegemonic craft language you promoted under your term as editor.
Megan: “Crafts-man” will be “Craftsperson.” And “brad-point bit” will be gender-neutralized to “pat-point bit.” A drill “chuck” will be called the more gender-neutral “charlie.” “Crotch wood” will be called “Tender wood.” “Cock bead” will be “poultry bead.” “Glue creep” will be “glue Crispin Glover.” And “bastard grain” will be…
Chris: OK. Got it. Any new columns in the works?
Megan: Absolutely. We’re going to have a column called “Nurture and Grow Your Wood” about raising small saplings and using their tender shoots – harvested without killing the tree – to make beautiful necklaces, bracelets and charms. A column called “What Color is Your Wood?” about using color theory to influence your grain selection. I think that Sam Maloof was a winter; that’s clear from his choice of walnut for many chairs. James Krenov – obviously a spring. Look at his olivewood. Many woodworkers have never explored how their own skin tones influence their choices at the lumberyard. Plus, my editor’s letter in every issue will cover must-know hair and makeup tips for looking your best in the shop.
Megan: I have to say you don’t sound enthused about these proposed changes.
Chris: Naw, lady, I always like a little feathered crotch with my wood.
Megan: That is exactly the problem of which I am speaking.
— Christopher Schwarz