Peter Galbert’s upcoming book on chairmaking began more than two years ago with a short afternoon chat in Berea, Ky. It started as a DVD project with some plans. Then it was a booklet. Next, a book with photos and drawings. And finally, a massive opus on green-wood chairmaking with more than 450 hand-drawn illustrations by Peter himself.
Peter, who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, has drawn out the process of chairmaking in such incredible detail that I think you could build a chair even if you never read a word of the book.
And while I say there are 450 drawings, that is a gross underestimation. There are 450 sheet of drawings (plus a couple dozen on the way). Many of these sheets contain as many as six individual illustrations.
Many of these illustrations were drawn four or five times over as Peter refined the look of the illustrations. As I scanned every one of these illustrations during the last five days, I was in awe of the scope of his work.
It is the Roubo of green chairmaking, and I do not say that lightly.
I’ve been making chairs for more than 10 years, and I am blown away by the clarity of Peter’s methods, his metaphors and his ability to explain complex problems with only a few sentences and a perfect drawing.
I hope to rise to the challenge of presenting this material. We are now on our second full round of scanning the drawings. All 450 illustrations have been processed and cleaned up in Photoshop individually.
As I type this, Linda Watts, the designer, is laying out the book in an 8-1/2” x 11” format so it has an open feel with plenty of white space to frame Peter’s illustrations.
We’ve decided to call this book “Chairmaker’s Notebook” because it has the look and feel of a technical sketchbook. It appears casual and airy, but is filled with big ideas.
When will it be ready? We hope to send it to the printer in January with a release in late February or early March. We have no information on pricing. But I do have one tantalizing detail to share. One of Peter’s friends is a bookbinder and plans to offer a hand-bound version of “Chairmaker’s Notebook.”
I know that many of you have been waiting a long time for this book. We are close, and it will be worth the wait.
— Christopher Schwarz