One of the bright parts of this year has been working with Aspen Golann and The Chairmaker’s Toolbox to lend a hand to budding toolmakers who are underrepresented in our craft (female, NBG and BIPOC).
My role was tiny: I consulted with Eleanor Rose on developing a fantastic chair devil and a reproduction of the H.O. Studley mallet. Eleanor didn’t need much help from me, but I am happy to shine a light on her work, and I hope we get to work on another project that might become a production tool.
As someone who has handled/fondled/might-have-licked the Studley mallet during photography for “Virtuoso,” I know exactly how the mallet should feel and look, even close up. Eleanor’s version takes a small liberty with the handle material (to save the rosewoods), and she improved an interior structure. I think Studley would be pleased with the result. (I bought two of hers.)
Her chair devil immediately became one of my favorite chairmaking tools. Yes, you can easily make your own, but it won’t look this nice, or have the same nimbleness. Last I heard, Eleanor is still tooling up to make a run of these. You might want to send her a message to let her know you want one. I bought the first sample she sent me.
The other toolmakers in The Chairmaker’s Toolbox have produced some great-looking tools that are now for sale. And the project is ongoing, with educational opportunities and a way to transfer tools to future generations.
I was grateful to play a small part in the launch of this program, and I hope to do more (if they’ll let me).
– Christopher Schwarz