People who make things are the best people I know. And that’s why I’m a fierce believer that the best way to help our craft is to unlock or open doors for anyone – anyone – who wants to step through.
Recently a friend alerted me to a new Instagram account that highlights the work of transgender craftspeople – transcraftsociety. Even if you aren’t transgender, I encourage you to follow their efforts and add their feed to the images you consume every day. Embracing beauty in all forms will make you a better designer (and person).
Example: Though I’m a rabid advocate for vernacular furniture – peasant pieces – my feeds are filled with brutalist architecture, Soviet bus stops and decay aesthetics. I am a better woodworker and designer thanks to the unfamiliar.
One of the members of the Society of Trans Craftspeople explained their mission to me this way:
“The Society of Trans Craftspeople was started by a trans furniture maker who wanted to connect with fellow artisans who shared similar life experiences. What started as personal social project due to Covid isolation has grown into a project that promotes and supports Transgender and Non-Binary artists in craft and art media. We aim to increase visibility for queer craftspeople who are often forgotten or overlooked and strive for equity in the craft and art world. In addition to continuing bi weekly posts, class promotions and community building we hope to eventually grow into or work with equity based non-profit or non profit adjacent organizations (such as chairmakers toolbox – a workshop of our own, etc.) in order to provide funding, class seats and other financial, emotional, and communal support. That being said, our main goal is to remind people we exist and to show off some beautiful work.”
Check it out. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll see some things you haven’t seen before.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Don’t bother posting hateful or negative comments. They will be deleted.
49 thoughts on “Welcome to the Society of Trans Craftspeople”
Thank you for that! My son is trans, and I couldn’t be more proud of him! I am going to add this site to my regulars and pass it on to him as well. Nice to think we can all be in this together.
Thank you for posting this. I love woodworking and I’m always very happy to hear when it’s not just straight middle aged men like me who love it too.
I’m an overweight, past middle age, grizzled cranky wasp. I have produced zero amazing works but I have loved vernacular furniture ever since my first trip to Williamsburg way back when. Anybody in the lgbtq+ community who’s been brave enough to say it out loud is braver than I am. Having ANY space that holds its arms open and says come on in with a smile and means it helps everyone!!!
Thank you, Chris. Creativity is an endless struggle against the infinite ways we close our minds and exploration of how we grow from opening up to the beauty in everything around us.
Thanks for sharing!
So awesome! Like Dennis, above, I am the father of a trans adult child, whom I could not be more proud of #ProudFather! This post makes me happy, and I will share it with both of my adult children. Thank you for this!
Thoughtful post, bravo professor!
Posting this knowing that the current echo chamber will almost certainly be preserved at all costs.
Trans people don’t need to convince us they “exist” etc. If they want recognition as some sort of human being making good furniture, they should just make good furniture. I don’t care about their bits and pieces any more than they probably care about mine.
I don’t consider this unkind, I just come here for the woodworking, not for clumsy attempts at social engineering, and I have a different point of view.
I’m not sure it’s about existence, everyone knows trans people exist, whether or not that inspires happiness. It’s about having a place and about being welcome, things that have been denied to many groups of people that don’t do masculinity in the accepted way. Woodworking culture hasn’t generally been great at this and if we care about the breadth of people that we work with then we’re going to have to get explicit about making them feel welcome. Asking them to produce good work first is not really fair, they’ve got to be welcome in the first place.
(In terms of social engineering I’d argue things like this aren’t clumsy at all. Women’s participation has increased markedly through such initiatives and someone like Chris adding his clout is worth a bit. So reasonably effective social engineering?)
So… go look and see if it’s good? How do you find new artists doing good work if you don’t look around?
If sharing an Instagram feed constitutes a “clumsy attempt at social engineering” to you, then I think your perspective is due for a reset. Which is entirely the point of this post.
I see plenty of accounts with an overt reference to the account holder’s Christianity. Initially I thought “what does this have to do with woodworking” but quickly decided it was a profound part of their identity and thus relevant information if I care about the person behind the account (I do). Do you believe that’s analogous to this situation?
Agreed; far from being “forgotten and overlooked”, the trans fad is celebrated by every mainstream institution. The claim to victim status just does not work.
Fad? Would you say this to a trans student at your school?
Who, apart from you, said anything about “people’s bits and pieces”? Who even says that, full stop? Straight people, I suppose 💁
I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Just be a good/passionate woodworker, what does sex/gender have to do with their work/skill? I’ve never met one woodworker who was not welcoming to anyone who was interested in this craft. We come here to stay away from such politicisation and preaching. If anything such groups seem to segregate the community.
Were you a woman, I doubt your experience would be the same. When one is other than the norm, the experience is often different.
When they are non-binary, they often feel even more estranged from the rest of the world. Especially when confronted with some of the thoughts and opinions expressed in these comments.
I’m assuming none of you meant any harm with these posts, but many are, whether you meant them or not. And don’t bother to reply anything about “growing a pair”. Some of the people we are talking about would be more than willing, if that were possible. Some of the things said here may not seem like much to you, but when faced with reactions like this from so many others, whether in this forum, or especially in-person, they can have IMMENSE repercussions to children and teens. While LGBTQ+ teens are no more likely to commit suicide, when faced with a constant barrage of “harmless” comments such as these, it heightens their estrangement from society even more and greatly increases the chances of suicidal behavior.
If you are interested in knowing more about being an ally, please check out:
I rarely post, but I read the LAP blog every day and read nearly every comment.
The supportive comments in this thread have been really wonderful to read.
Chris and Megan inspire me, but so do many of you who share the (often frustrating) drive to build things, and hopefully make ourselves and the world a little better along the way.
I am so appreciative that Chris and Megan are intentional about inviting more people into this space. I am also thankful that there is a community of readers and who value it, too.
Thanks for the suggestion.
Thank you for spreading the word.
Sexuality has nothing to do with either imagination or ability (as in design or use of tools). It’s your site so you can delete this if you think expressing an opinion that differs from yours offends you. We accept art and talent for what it is – no different than those who came before us and those who follow – regardless of gender or what ever you’re referring to how people identify their ‘self’.
I come here for all the things.
I would have never known a thing about woodworking or even tools if it weren’t for posts like this. I always thought of woodworkers as grumpy Ron Swansons until I discovered Lost Art Press while trying to learn how to build something for my house. I quickly learned that there are a lot of awesome artists, musicians, skateboarders, designers, etc in the woodworking community (people with whom I can relate). Fast forward a year and I now have a 300lb roubo, dutch tool chest, and a stack of lumber in my home office. Sometimes, all it takes is knowing that there are other like-minded people out there in order to pursue a passion. Props for encouraging a more diverse community.
So you can only be interested in something if you feel that there are people who look like you or share your ideology? Seems weird too that you thought woodworkers were just grumpy men, pretty close minded of you.
AWOO are great! Thanks for this.
Thanks for this great post. Every link had something inspiring.
If you look a project photos on Instagram or the pages of any woodwork magazine, you judge the piece on what you see without knowing any details about the craftsman. All I know is that I am always envious of their skill level and do not know how many hours of labor went into its completion.
I’m not generally drawn to whacky chairs but one post has an interesting ball-socket-stool.
re: the chair in the photo, there’s something really interesting and elegant about the angles in the rear legs/back. And I’m sort of intrigued by what I’m guessing are exposed mortises (?) in there–seems like a heck of a lot of work, sort of calls my eye just because I’m surprised to see something I find unbelievably difficult to do (particularly that cleanly) done for what I assume (based on nothing but the picture) are purely decorative purposes. Speaks to a certain awkwardness, as does the seat, which of course would probably have been easier to make level on top–seems to me a lot of work went into making the seat slightly uneven, and therefore (I would guess, but what do I know) slightly uncomfortable.
I like clean lines, and really admire pieces that seem not to have a single line more than they absolutely need to accomplish their function. So this chair is very much not up my alley. But it’s really interesting to look at and think about, I’ve enjoyed looking over this picture more than I’ve enjoyed any chairs from the chair chats.
If you like decay aesthetics as intentional art check out randihockettfineart.com
I am proud to associate with folks like you. These folks need safe spaces and their fantastic work needs to be broadcasted. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Chris. I was born in 1968 and grew up in San Francisco. My dad used to take me to the Castro Theater in the 1970s to see rereleased Disney films and old Laurel and Hardy films (with someone playing the organ as some were silent films). Went to local college in San Francisco in the 1980s and in 1986 attended a lecture on someone who had transitioned from a woman to a man. Not that I picked up on it at the time, but a lot of the faculty was LBGQT (and still is). By the 2000s I started to realize what I had considered “normal” in the Bay Area isn’t everywhere else.
Thanks for Chris. Hopelully one day in the future people will not need to and an adjective in front of
words like artist, craftsperson, chairmaker or any other very talented person.
You said no hateful comments but I’m here to say brutalist architecture absolutely sucks and I’ll not have it in my IG feed!
Thank you for highlighting this insta, Chris.
Wow! I learned so much from this post. I have several LGBTQ+ friends that might be interested in their society. I’ll be sure to pass it on. I also learned that Soviet bus stops were more than just functional concrete blocks but actually had some style as well. The Kyrygz hat, the yurt café, and the Octopus all remind me of tourist trap architecture you’ll find here in America. I swear I’ve seen some of the designs used as picnic shelters at interstate rest areas on I-80 in my childhood.
Thanks so much for posting this! I just checked it out and immediately found a 19 year-old kid making wooden planes that, for my money, looked nearly on par with Oliver Sparks’s stuff. To find someone that age, doing work like that, is amazing, no matter their gender or orientation. Why wouldn’t anybody want to make a place for them? Now, to find out if I can afford a plane from them.
All are different.
And all are great!
Good work, LAP!
A hearty “Welcome!” to our trans friends and families!
Thank you for this post. Art is art, craft is craft and has nothing to do with gender, but creativity and expression.
That chair looks like a good candidate for a chair chat.
Thanks for this post!! I needed this today.
Are trans artists really “often forgotten or overlooked”? That seems far-fetched at best.
Side note: the photo appears to be a chair that identifies as a cutting board. If that was intentional, hat’s off to the artist for creating a meaningful work.
Thanks for highlighting this! For people who don’t get why it is important to highlight trans/lgbt/etc people in craft, what a lucky existence you must have had! If I had a dollar for every time some ass at a woodworking store made me feel lesser, I could pay for a class at LAP. To overcome that, to lean in anyway to learn something from people who think you are less because you aren’t like them and they don’t understand you – that’s big. It’s hard, it’s brave. If you haven’t experienced that, haven’t had to overcome that, thank your lucky stars, and applaud the people who kept marching into unwelcome spaces and made something beautiful anyway. And recognize that if you had the same barrier to entry, you might not have had the strength to make it.
What do they do to make you feel lesser?
Really stimulating insights here. I just started to get an insight into how ‘freeing’ it must be for women to work in an environment where they don’t have some old bastard mansplaining to them and saying, ‘ You’re doing that all wrong, love’.They bring their own way of making to the process. And who knew that so many women are toolmakers- how fantastic! I can’t wait to show this to my two daughters. More like this, please.
A great follow that I wouldn’t have found otherwise, thanks! It’s already time to start thinking about holiday presents…
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