During the last two weeks I have been deep into designing Chris Williams’s book on John Brown. It’s great to see all these years of work from people all over the world come together on the page.
In addition to Chris’s detailed account of his life with John Brown and all the important details on chair construction, the book features essays from other important voices in John Brown’s chairmaking life. Anne Sears, JB’s wife while at Pantry Fields; David Sears, a nephew who built chairs with JB at Pantry Fields; Matty Sears, one of JB’s sons who made chairmaking tools for his dad; and Nick Gibbs, the editor who hired John Brown to write a column for Good Woodworking. We’re also using many linocut illustrations made by Molly Brown, one of JB’s daughters.
On top of all that, we have purchased the rights to publish 20 of John Brown’s best magazine columns. I’ve just finished laying out that chapter, and it’s 72 pages long – almost a novella. As a result, I’ve pulled a few choice quotes that I’ll publish here this week in an attempt to give you a taste of JB’s writing.
This leads me on to gripe about some of the woodworkers I come across. I hope you will forgive my opinion. When I talk to readers or get letters it often seems to be about the petty cash of woodwork (technical points about dovetails or getting joints to fit), but rarely about shape, proportion or colour. I don’t think joints are that important. I would prefer to see woodworkers look at the total picture, is the piece they have just made beautiful, will it hold together, will it do the job it was made for?
Woodworkers don’t buy my chairs, but they spend ages looking at the details of construction and then frown disapprovingly. They want engineering perfection. People who buy my chairs do so for two main reasons. Firstly and by far the most important point, they buy because they like the look of them. Secondly they buy them because they like sitting in them. They rarely inspect the joints. They think they look good, they think they will do the job they are made to do and even though the parts don’t fit particularly well, they are strong enough!
The book should be off to the printer in January and released by March. I’ll have more details as they become available.
— Christopher Schwarz