If you’ve met Chris Williams, then you know “soothing” is not the most likely adjective to describe him – typically I’d choose “hilarious,” “enthusiastic,” “skilled” … something that gets across his larger-than-life personality and absolute love for and mastery as a maker of the Welsh stick chair form.
But as I was working away alone in my basement shop, I was listening to Chris chat with Kyle Barton and Sean Wisniewski on the Modern Woodworkers Association podcast (episode #290), and it was just so nice to hear his voice again (and OK – his lilting Welsh accent), that I felt as if he was in the room with me … though he’d no doubt be appalled at the state of my basement shop – it is, as Chris would say, SHOCKING! And it was soothing too, for that hour and 15 minutes or so, to not feel quite so alone. (But don’t worry – I’m fine.)
Chris was on the podcast to talk about his new book, “Good Work: The Chairmaking Life of John Brown,” about Welsh stick chairs in general, and how his own view of chairmaking is very much determined by his place in the world (that is, a small, rural village in Wales). He expands (expounds?) on some of the information in the book, sharing more about his own woodworking background, and more on how John Brown changed the trajectory of his life. Chris also offers his thoughts on what makes a “good” Welsh stick chair, and how his own have evolved – along with my favorite quotation from John Brown on the subject: they are “a smidgen off ugly.” He also talks a bit about a new book he wants to write.
Give it a listen; it’s worth your while. The link here is to the Google podcast player, but the episode (Modern Woodworkers Association #290) is available just about anywhere you find your podcasts.