After five long days in the shop, Chris Williams has sent six new Welsh stick chairs into the wilds of America. My hope is that these chairs work like seeds, and an appreciation for this form will take root and flourish in the United States.
Like with many chairs, it’s difficult to capture its graciousness in photographs. And yet it was photographs that inspired most of the six students to take the class here.
One night after dinner this week, several of the students confessed that they knew little of John Brown when they signed up for the class. Instead, it was the photos of Chris’s chairs that inspired them to sign up (beating out 56 other students now on our waiting list) to be here.
That means we have a lot of work ahead with Chris’s upcoming book (written with Kieran Binnie) tentatively titled “The Life & Work of John Brown.” John Brown, who died 10 years ago this June, was more than just a chair. He was a set of ideas and philosophies that both inspired and angered people in the United Kingdom, plus a few people in the States who caught wind of his writing.
I think the story of John Brown’s woodworking life plus Chris’s instructions on building his Welsh stick chair will inspire a new generation. It worked with the six students here this week, who were treated to hours of evening conversations about John Brown, woodworking and life in Wales. So let’s hope this approach works on several thousand more people as well.
As to future classes, Chris has agreed to come back to Covington, Ky., next year to teach another six students. We’ll post details on the class as soon as we settle on dates for the class.
— Christopher Schwarz