“Make a Joint Stool from a Tree,” by Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee, was an early Lost Art Press book – published in 2012, not too long after Christopher Schwarz left Popular Woodworking. Eight years (and change) later, there are but a couple hundred copies left, so it’s time to go back on press. And that’s an opportunity to rethink the “form factor”; the new version will have a printed hardbound cover (and add a new preface from Peter Follansbee).
To make room in the warehouse for the new printing, LAP has reduced the price on the remaining first editions to $27. So if you’re a first edition kind of person and don’t already have this one, now is the time.
Determining the winner of the marketing slogan contest was tough. Some of you clearly are sick, twisted and would feel right at home in our household.
Here are some of the runners-up (who all win an unpaid marketing internship at Lost Art Press):
Kurt Roeder: “You’ll lose your head over these Bastille Day savings on blades and sharpening supplies!”
Nathan Cummings: “Make your Good Friday a Great one with half-price on blacksmith-forged Roman nails! PS – Don’t delay – our prices will rise again on Easter!”
Brinkreview: “Honey, where are the kids? They’re all down at LOST ART PRESS for the National Missing Children’s Day sale!!!”
Jonathan P. Szczepanski: “It’s a GOOD idea to RAISE the grain before using our DYES & STAINS during our THREE-DAY EASTER SALE!”
Curt Lavallee: “Give your bits an Eisen-shower and say AUF WEIDERSEHEN to that unclean feeling with our D-Day bidet sale! You’ll feel like Gold when Juno you’re paying this little! Act fast, you may… NOT SEE these prices again!”
Gerald: “IBS Awareness Day is April 19. Our prices are running down. Don’t wait or you will be too. Hurry in for our Back Door Blow Out!”
Mike Siemsen: “Feeling blocked? Don’t just sit there? Squeeze out some great savings on books from Lost Art Press! Move on these deals now this Evacuation Day and you too could learn how to properly produce a stool!”
Bryan Livicker: “Watch us GIVE BIRTH to the savings for our LABOUR DAY sale!”
Steve: “Want a shop full of Festools? Well keep DREAM-ing at our Martin Luther King festool sale.”
David Sears: “For all you blind chairmakers out there, get the new edition of ‘Welsh Stick Chairs’ in Broil, I’m sorry I’ll feel that again. Celebrate World Braille Day this January 4th.”
Margaret Krantz: “Prove her right–buy more tools! See our great Assumption of Mary day sale!”
Alan Doyle: “Celebrate Veterans Day with the sanders of Iwo Jima.”
And the winner of the $100 Lost Art Press gift card:
Anthony H.: “One day only – don’t miss our Groundhog Day sale! One day only – don’t miss our Groundhog Day sale!”
Thanks to everyone who participated. Y’all are funnier than my wife thinks you are.
P.S. These meetings are recorded and published on the Bench.Talk.101 YouTube channel, so by joining the conversation, you are giving permission for the talk to be recorded and the recording to be made public for all to enjoy. You can watch previous episodes on the Bench.Talk.101 YouTube channel.
Whenever I take our dog, Joey, to the vet, he treats me to an ear-splitting performance of terror and woe. Just getting in the truck prompts panic; although I took him everywhere when he was a pup, he’s spent most of his adult life in the house, yard or shop. As a result, the truck has come to signify just one thing: that terrible destination where he gets poked, palpated and robbed of all agency. We turn from Woodyard Road onto Smith Pike and all hell breaks loose: the angry barks and plaintive cries, the look – part-imploring, part-accusatory. “Mom! NO! You CANNOT take me there! PLEASE! I won’t go! I can’t stand it! Turn around! MOM!!!” – all on repeat.
But I’ve always been struck by what happens as soon as I park the truck. His demeanor instantly shifts from avoidance-at-all-costs to single-minded resolution: OK then, let’s get this over with.
I thought of Joey last Thursday as I contemplated the pint or so of “Mochaccino Smoothie” barium sulfate suspension I was going to choke down between 7:30 and 8 the next morning (it turned out to be just fine, even if it would fall short of the expectations some might have based on the cup of foamy cappuccino and random chunks of chocolate that illustrate the label), followed about a half hour later by another 10 or so ounces, before driving to the local radiological center for a CT scan.
“How is it possible that I am doing this to myself?” I marveled, as I always do when facing a frightening medical procedure. I’m still the person who, as a 6- or 7-year-old kid with an extreme fear of needles, was struck one day at the doctor’s office by the realization that I had the power to walk right out the door. And so I did. As I recall, my mother and one of the nurses ran after me, but for those few moments the sense of agency was potent. It lasted until my mother informed me I’d have to swallow two pills the size of grenades if I wasn’t going to have the shot. (I still chose the pills, which we pulverized.)
Last Thursday, the urgency of my desire to know what was causing my vague but increasing abdominal discomfort shifted me into resolution. I thought of Joey. (It wasn’t the first time I’ve regarded a dog as an exemplar.)
I parked the truck, signed the consent forms and followed the technician through the labyrinth of offices, radiological suites and exam rooms to our destination, where I replaced my jeans with a pair of pants that would have fit John Candy and lay down on the table. The tech stuck an IV in my arm, not without some wincing from me, and described the sensations I should anticipate when the contrast medium went in.
After 42 interminable hours of waiting, my doctor called with the results: there was a mass on my pancreas, and it was likely malignant. The reading didn’t come as a complete surprise; this medical mystery tour had started with an abdominal ultrasound the week before that suggested reason for concern. The next step would be a biopsy.
The biopsy was performed at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, confirming the preliminary diagnosis. I never imagined I would write the words “I had a biopsy this morning (possibly the most pleasant endoscopic experience *anyone* has ever had – the nicest people, most respectful/non-paternalistic doctors, and totally pain-free procedure),” as I wrote to Chris Schwarz later in the day, but there you have it. I have an appointment with an oncologist next week to learn more and discuss where we might go from here.
My maternal grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. I’ve known others personally, as well as followed news of prominent people who have faced this diagnosis. I am well aware of its gravity, so please spare all of us any ominous warnings you may feel moved to share in the comments.
Why this post on a blog devoted to woodworking? For a start, woodworkers are people; all of us face devastating news at one time or another, and I’m not the first person to note that no one gets out of here alive. The more we acknowledge these Instagram-unworthy dimensions of life (despite their dampening effects on the kind of commerce that thrives on implicitly denying so much of what makes our lives truly worth living), the more responsibly we can act, and the better we can savor what life has to offer. Knowing you’re not alone in your experience is golden, whether of breast cancer or back surgery, sudden homelessness in the wake of a hurricane or fire, or having to choose between keeping your home above freezing and being able to purchase the medicine on which your life depends.
There’s also value in sharing honest appraisals of the experience for those who may come behind. As much as I dreaded yesterday’s endoscopy, I faced it with less fear than I would have, had I not heard about a friend’s experience of the same procedure. A frank assessment of how easy “Mochaccino Smoothie” barium sulfate is to swallow is no less valuable to anyone facing a similar procedure than an honest review of the SawStop slider to a woodworker with a relatively small shop.
Mostly, though, I would love the company of any readers who might like to be my companions in this adventure, which I would obviously have preferred not to have thrown in my path. (You can follow by subscribing here.) Many readers of this blog have become friends in real life; I also appreciate the back-and-forth I’ve enjoyed with some of you I haven’t yet met. Lost Art Press is home to thoughtful and intelligent readers from a variety of backgrounds, and I’m honored to be in your company.
It’s important to emphasize that despite the diagnosis, and apart from the abdominal discomfort, I feel fine. I seem to have no other symptoms – I have plenty of energy, even if the endless waiting and existential upheaval of the past two weeks has made it hard to focus on getting “real work” done. I plan to keep up the series of profiles categorized under “Little Acorns,” and I have a few design jobs, along with a wall of built-ins I have underway in the shop. We’ll go from there.
Most readers of this blog will be familiar with A Workshop of Our Own (WOO), the Baltimore teaching and workspace established in 2017 by furniture maker Sarah Marriage with funding from the prestigious John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship.
Along with other schools and ventures of all kinds that rely on in-person gatherings, WOO has faced serious challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sarah, WOO board members and other allies have come up with a response to keep the classes and camaraderie coming: a broadened reach of offerings online with “From WOO to You.” In the coming months, WOO will host a range of classes that are not only packed with information about tools and materials, and easy-to-follow instruction in skills, but taught by local and national instructors who are a lot of fun. There are basics such as “Understanding Wood” and classes to improve your precision and efficiency including “JIGS: Tools to Make Things Easy.” Inspired by Sarah’s recent experiments with carving in a different medium – pumpkins – there will also be seasonal offerings, such as “Fancy Pumpkin Carving.” (And if you think that fancy pumpkin carving sounds like fluff, think again. Sarah’s technique and designs are mind-blowing in their ingenuity – not that that should come as a surprise to anyone who knows her.)
At $29 a pop for non-members of WOO and $25 for members, the classes are far more affordable than many online classes. One (or more) of the classes would also make an excellent gift for any woman and/or gender non-conforming woodworker/aspiring woodworker. (For those unfamiliar with WOO, it is a non-profit safe space for training underrepresented genders; enrollment is limited to women and gender non-conforming folks over the age of 18.) Each class is taught live but viewable for 30 days afterward.