When Roy Underhill opened his fantastic school in Pittsboro, N.C., the core idea was to spread the doctrine of handwork to woodworking students in the local community and around the world.
But something else happened that I saw first-hand.
After teaching at The Woodwright’s School a half-dozen times (and watching Roy, Mary May, Tom Calisto, Elia Bizzarri, Bill Anderson and many others teach there), I saw something even more amazing than 12 woodworking students building stuff by hand.
I watched hundreds of passers-by – non-woodworkers and non-students – become captivated by the craft by merely stumbling in off the street to find people merrily engaged in handwork.
Roy has always welcomed visitors with open arms. The first time I saw this happen I thought it was disruptive to the teaching process. Then I realized how wrong I was.
“The true mission isn’t just in teaching enthusiastic woodworkers,” Roy told me. “It’s about showing the community that woodworking is alive and well.”
Those words have been heavy in my mind as we renovated the storefront for Lost Art Press. Yes, it’s the place I work every day, building furniture and stabbing split infinitives through the heart. But it’s also the chairs in the window. It’s showing the neighbors that handwork is alive and well. It’s in meeting four other makers on our block who make things with wood for a living.
This is why I didn’t build a shop in the country (though that solitude would be appealing). There’s work that needs to be done. Not just at the bench but in the community as well.
— Christopher Schwarz