The New ‘By Hand & Eye’ Website and Online Course


The authors of “By Hand & Eye” and “By Hound & Eye” have launched a beautiful and informative new website that you should add to your browser or RSS feed.

The website is appropriately called “By Hand & Eye Online” and you can get there via At this point the website consists of an active blog maintained by Jim Tolpin and George Walker who are writing about the interesting pre-industrial design techniques they have been exploring together for several years.

Check out their blog here.

At the moment the two are creating a six-part online series called “Tricks & Truths” that will further extend your knowledge of artisan geometry. While the online course isn’t ready yet, you can sign up to be notified when it is released here.

We at Lost Art Press have been greatly heartened and a bit surprised at how well George and Jim have connected with readers on the topic of design. (Design books are typically commercial duds.) Whenever I travel I hear customers rave about the techniques their books explore, which are based on simple whole-number ratios instead of magic formulas or art school mumbo-jumbo.

If you are interested in going deeper into their world, I highly recommend you check out their new site, read the blog and consider taking the online course when it becomes available. Jim and George are fanatics about this stuff, and it shows in the quality of their writing and teaching.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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16 Responses to The New ‘By Hand & Eye’ Website and Online Course

  1. disneytodd says:

    I can’t wait to finish my classes!!!


  2. Jeff Faulk says:

    I’m wondering what’s going on in that picture. It appears to be some sort of shop class lecture, but the students and instructor appear to be peering through… stereoscopes?


    • Rick Pettit says:

      I believe the folks in the photo are checking blocks of wood for squareness. The edges of the blocks have been outlined with something like with dark ink. (For the sake of the photo?) I first thought they were using stereoscopes, too.


      • tsstahl says:

        Nah, they’re recording the lecture on their smart phones. Don’t be fooled by the sepia tone electronic filter. 😮
        Yes, I’m kidding.


  3. gruntlen says:

    Art schools not only do not hold a monopoly on mumbo-jumbo, and in my experience I encountered more hand and eye type stuff in art school than in most of the rest of the world. What seems like art mumbo-jumbo is generally what people don’t understand because they have put little time or thought into where art has been since it was mostly narrative and representational. This gap exists between all of the so-called high arts and their contemporary audiences, yawned open around the same time, and is even wider between the forms and mediocre practictioners who are mostly reactionary and under-schooled in their discipline than between the forms and people who are not even their audience. I have seen a lot of magic formula BS from ersatz artists and “designers,” but they only happen to be housed in the same section of Barnes and Noble; they are not artists, they are people wearing berets. Sure there is some mighty mumbo-jumbo in art, but you’re painting a straw man with a very broad brush. Unless by mumbo-jumbo you mean that artists steer by intuition and haven’t bothered to analyze what they do in order to extract rules and guidelines, in which case you are correct, and that is as it should be. By Hand and Eye could not be written about poetry or music, I hope you would agree. Apologies if I mistook your point.


    • tsstahl says:

      “By Hand and Eye could not be written about poetry or music…”

      Nope, don’t agree. Both forms can be highly represented in mathematical terms. Heck, a lot of people simply think of music as math. And anything numerical can be rendered in proportions, or otherwise modeled. Point being there is fundamental order in the chaos. True masters (in anything) take what is basic and show it to the world in a wonderful aspect.

      However, I am one those ignorant proles lacking in a formal art education. The grain on my forehead runs left to right, like most blockheads. 🙂


      • miathet says:

        I would tend to disagree. I am an over educated math and stats head working in data storage technology and have come to the following thoughts after doing the workbook and life:
        1. Math is awesome!! Sorry need to say it.
        2. The piano and music theory lessons I received as a child prepared me for my future in computers and math. Programming and music are linked in patterns by different names and the patterns are beautiful. If you go to the best security conferences some of the best Jazz music is played by many of the best hackers and creative security minds.
        3. The best programming uses set patterns that are usually mathematics based. See many theory books or just read how the distributed networks for Amazon or Google work.
        3. The workbook in particular is a view of patterns that use geometry to allow them to be applied consistently for good results. The compass/divider (arc) and the line being critical element to both design and math

        Poetry not so sure as I spend much more time with Jazz and Classical music.


    • gruntlen says:

      I agree with both of you, tsstahl and miathet. I’m not saying there aren’t patterns, I’m saying that it has to be mumbo-jumbo to generate new patterns, when it is art we are talking about. Old patterns only generate old patterns. A new practical function can be made, as in your Amazon and Google examples, but those are not poetry or music. A chair depends on scale relations in a body, art does not have an analagous function or restriction. Math can be found in Mingus and Szymanowski but cannot reveal how the math came to be ordered in that affective way. The simple equation that generates infinite complexity cannot be distilled here, unlike analysis of weather or random drips from a faucet.

      As I understand them your replies have more to do with retrospective analysis than generation (aside from jazz improvising hackers and security experts, which is something I would love to hear). Absolutely the world is powered by math, by fractals and chaos theory, and they are order at its best because they are generative and create new but still harmonized forms. The difference between them and recipes based on analysis of prior art creations is we can spot the patterns but cannot generate new forms with them, only pale echoes. We can find the math and patterns in their work and demonstrate it but good luck to us making a new Ellington or Sorabji composition applying that data. That is why it has to be by feel each time, using deeply internalized contradictory data, which is why art school may appear to be more about mumbo-jumbo than concrete aesthetic development. Mozart and Ornette Coleman are based on relatively very simple rules but we could never use those to creative ends if we used them by rote, it is an unbridgeable gap by that route. A black box is required and that is a beautiful thing. It can be taught, but it will always look like mumbo-jumbo, anything less and it is untrue and patently fraudulent.

      I am a blockhead too, and I think all artists are, it is an important virtue when grappling with the angel in the black box. The ones who think they have it figured out are guaranteed to be deluded but right, or just plain wrong. Or they are talking about craft, not art. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

      One additional question that might be another proof of my ideas, but I have not done the workbook, so this is not a rhetorical question: Could the workbook apply for Indian, Balinese, Chinese, or any different aesthetic tradition, and still produce work they would recognize as good?


  4. Derek Long says:

    I’m pretty excited for the new offering from Walker and Tolpin. I’m also pretty intrigued by the photo at the top of this post. They appear to be observing how to check for square with engineer squares on pieces of wood. And look at those benches all laid out neatly with saws, hammers, and other tools. Great find with that picture.


  5. Ben Lowery says:

    Reblogged this on b19y and commented:

    Definitely worth a look! And an add to the Reader.


  6. toolnut says:

    Nice website and cool pic. I’m surprised we didn’t get a comment on the bench in the pic from Chris; and, am I the only one who noticed the instructor seems to be particularly “animated” about his topic? (Look close and you will see what I mean.)


  7. charlie says:

    I like to make modern furniture that breaks the rules. Can this book be used for that? Not interested in recreating Granny furniture like most woodworkers.


    • Jeff Faulk says:

      By Hand and Eye explains the basic fundaments of proportion and aesthetics, which can be used to build anything from jewelry boxes to Greek temples. So yes, you can use it to build modern furniture.


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