When I sent “The Stick Chair Book” to press in June, my plan was to immediately launch into my next book project. But then I took a look at our family’s finances, and I knew that idea was unwise.
When you don’t sell any furniture or teach any classes for 56 weeks in a row, you feel the pinch – even though Lucy and I have zero debt.
So I started making and selling spec chairs as fast as I could. And now, five months later, I am cooking meatloaf tonight for dinner – so our bank balance is definitely better. Tomorrow I will ship out the last of a run of Hobbit-y chairs and begin on my next book project. Here are the details.
As I was writing “The Stick Chair Book,” I wanted to cover everything – and I mean everything – that I’ve learned about making these chairs. But it simply wasn’t physically possible to shoehorn it all into one volume. So I decided instead to focus only on the core techniques, plus plans for five chair forms. (Despite my narrower focus, “The Stick Chair Book” is a whopping 632 pages.)
Then, my plan was to write a series of smaller books that covered additional chair forms and the techniques particular to that kind of chair. These books would be paperback and similar in size to John Brown’s “Welsh Stick Chairs” – 7.25” x 9.625” and 104 pages or so.
If the first book does well, then I’ll keep writing these smaller books until people get sick of them or I run out of chair forms to explore.
The first book in the series will be about a Welsh form of chair that I call the “boxy comb-back.” These handsome chairs have a rectangular seat and armbow, which gives them the squarish look of an old Volvo (I’ve owned three Volvo 240s and adore them, FYI.)
One of the delightful aspects of these chairs is that they sometimes have three legs. I’ve never built a comb-back with three legs, so that will be exciting. Plus, the chairs’ armbows offer the opportunity for some cool joinery, such as a long diagonal scarf.
I’ve purchased the wood for the first two chairs for the book and hope to start processing it tomorrow.
If these two chairs come out OK, I’ll definitely put them up for sale here. I do not want to experience the heartbreak of another meatloaf deficiency.
— Christopher Schwarz
15 thoughts on “Next: A Small Book (But Not About a Snail)”
Volvo, OMG. Having owned at least a dozen SAAB 96’s (only one was a 2-stroke), I can report that SAAB people referred to Volvos as “the Swedish Buick.” Although, my favorite local SAAB mechanic also worked on Volvo’s, so there’s that…..plus, they’re still in business making cars, and sadly, SAAB automotive was bought out by GM, and then dumped.
Looking forward to the Stick Chair Book.
Best to all,
You should try silent auctions for selling your wares. It’s just an idea. I’ve missed every sale of yours for one reason or another and am willing to go into debt for one of your chairs. I’m particularly fascinated by the three legged beasts that you make. Life is short.
Perhaps I’ll try that with the three-legged comb-back.
I have very proletarian tendencies and want to keep my chairs fairly priced for both the maker and the customer. It’s a struggle at times.
Thanks for the suggestion, and I will give it serious thought.
Or, perhaps, some form of “wish list,” where customers can submit a request for a particular style/finish of yours. Then, rather than feeling obligated to make a particular chair at a particular time, you can pick one off of the wish list according to your mood. When it is completed, you could allow the “requester” first dibs on it. Like so many others, I’m dying for one of your chairs.
Podnah, I really like folk-style ladderback chairs, particularly ladderback arm chairs. I made one recently from repurposed wood, M&T’d throughout with a board seat. Any chance you’ll do a small book on ladderbacks? I’d enjoy learning from it.
Matt, a Cajun from Louisiana
It would be impossible to eclipse “Make a Chair from a Tree” by Jennie Alexander, Drew Langsner’s “Chairmaker’s Workshop.” Both have fantastic instruction on ladderbacks.
Roger that. I have the alexander film and Drew’s book. Thanks.
It is the patina that always astonishes me is these chairs. It speaks to our collective history, whether that be family or human.
Chris, I admire your obsessive-compulsive self. I’ve learned immeasurably from your books and writings. As one who has lived by the written word, I see in you a craftsman of language and style, as much so as in wood. I genuinely wish I resided close to Covington, in which case I fear I would be tempted to learn by peering through your plate glass and to offer buy you endless rounds at that nearby establishment. Continue and be well. Steve
Perhaps your book that includes three-legged forms can explain or conjecture how and why they were built and if they are prone to structural failure due to one leg taking the weight that two ordinarily do. Just curious as always. I do like the look.
Could it be a simple combination of saving material and uneven floors?
How about you keep writing these marvelous books and I’ll cook the meatloaf for your family….❤️
Heck, I might even break down and buy you and Lucy some steaks to cook on the patio.
Holding out for the Jimmy Possum book…
Way back at the end of 2019, you mentioned that you and Mark Jenkinson were working on a short book about the Gibson chair.
I’m hoping that is still in the works.
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