A Journey to Wales, Part 2


Inspecting an antique chair at St Fagans National Museum of History.

I’ve known Chris Williams for a few years, and I now feel we are destined to have our lives intertwined for the rest of my days. There simply isn’t anyone else who thinks about chairs in the the way I do. And when I say chairs, I mean Welsh chairs.

I don’t know if I have any real Welsh in my blood. My latest Ancestry.com profile says 22 percent of my DNA is from England, Wales and nearby. While that’s something, I do know that Welsh chairs are etched in my brain.

When I pulled up to Chris’s tidy home in Llanybri late Tuesday I night, I hugged him, and we talked about chairs until midnight. When I left Saturday morning, our last words (before a warning about a tricky turn on my trip) were about chairs.

And the rest of the time in the middle was all about chairs as well.


Chris Williams points out an armbow growing in a tree.

During my visit, Chris was building a chair in his garage, sneaking off at odd hours to fashion its sticks. Plus, he had two recently completed chairs in the guest room. One was a new design he has been working on (follow him on Instagram if you want see its development) and the other was for his book “The Life & Work of John Brown.”

All three are markedly different. So we spent hours (apologies to Chris’s wife, Claire) talking about the details down to the facets, grain lines and fibers.

While we were muddling minutiae, Chris would stop and exclaim: “You couldn’t say something like that in front of John Brown. He’d tell you to (expletive deleted). He was all about the form.”

Like naughty schoolboys, we did it anyway. Apologies to the memory of John Brown.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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5 Responses to A Journey to Wales, Part 2

  1. Klaus N. Skrudland says:

    Thank you for following your dreams and sharing with us. Truly inspiring.


  2. craig regan says:

    Is your “Journey to Whales” a spiritual journey?


  3. Andrew Hansen says:

    I tried to post a picture for you of that very same chair when I visited St Fagans last month! (I took a dozen at least!) Glad you got to see it, I knew you’d be interested if you hadn’t already been there!

    I spoke to the curator in that house about you and your interest in Welsh stick chairs – maybe he recognized you when you came to visit?


  4. David says:

    Really enjoy reading your chair posts because I don’t know anything about chairs and they clearly fascinate you. Seems like a bottomless subject, which yes is an absolutely awful pun but still. Here’s a link to a Japanese greenwood worker talking about a Danish chair maker (courtesy of Jarrod Dahl, no slouch himself). The lines of the chair seem almost primitive but also modern. Thought of you right away. Hope you enjoy:

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    デンマーク点描(まだ続く・・・) ピーター・ハーステッド作 グリーンウッドワークの椅子 いままで見たグリーンウッドワークの椅子の中でも、とても美しいと思った椅子です。彼はデンマークの教育大学で工芸を教える准教授。デンマークもヴァイキングの古い歴史がありながら意外にもグリーンウッドワークは廃れてしまったそうで、工芸教育に採り入れようとイギリスの第一人者マイク・アボットさんに椅子づくりを学びに行ったのが1989年のこと。その時、受講生の中で一人だけ、見本と違う形で作ったのだそうです。脚の形、アームの曲線がなんともデンマーク的 で、素晴らしいと思いました。有名なデザイナーの名作椅子をモデルにしたのか尋ねてみると、「デンマークで育ったから自然に出てくるんだよ」とのことでした。日本でも、こういう椅子づくりを目指したいです。 ピーターさんはその後、マイクさん、アメリカのドリュー・ランズナーさん、スウェーデンのヨゲ・スンクヴィストさんを招いて講座を開催したり、デンマーク版のスプーンフェストを企画運営したり、教育現場でグリーンウッドワークの普及に務めたり。いま私がやっていることとと同じことを20年も先に実践していて、まるで自分の分身のような気がしました。 Greenwood chair by Peter Hersted, @hersted Denmark He is teaching craft at a University in Denmark. It was almost 30 years ago when he watched a Swedish TV program about green woodwork. He decided to introduce it to craft education, then took a chair making course at Mike Abbott's. This is his first chair. I am very impressed by the design of arms and legs. Very Danish. Since then he has been the biggest promoter of green woodwork in Denmark, inviting Mike, Drew Langsner, Wille and Jögge Sundqvist to have classes, organizing the event called Snittefest, the Danish version of the Spoonfest (or Taljfest in Sweden). I felt like he was a Danish version of myself, running 20 years ahead.

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