After reading the authors’ first draft of “By Hand & Eye,” a curious question occurred to me:
Can a book teach someone to sing?
Throughout this book, George Walker and Jim Tolpin use music as a metaphor to explain the mechanics of design. The metaphor is helpful in understanding their material, but I wondered if the metaphor exposed a weakness in their method. Namely, that design, like music, is something you can develop only through the act of doing it and gauging the response of others to your work.
But as I read the book for the third time during the editing process, I realized that Walker and Tolpin have indeed created a book that can teach you to sing. And they have done three things that no other book on furniture design has accomplished.
1. They refuse to accept that furniture design is a system of secret codes and numbers that merely need to be applied at the drafting table to create beauty. Or that design is innate and un-teachable.
2. They reveal a much simpler system – similar to notes on a scale – that can guide your efforts to train your hand, eye and mind to create pleasing forms.
3. They give you a roadmap (instead of a plane ticket) for you to follow in the journey ahead. They show you the musical scales you need to practice. They show you how the instrument works. And they even play a few of the scales to show you the results.
The next steps, however, are up to you. Take this book, try the exercises and see if they can teach you to sing at the drafting board. The trip ahead might be long, but with this book (and some traveling music, perhaps) you won’t ever get lost.
Notes from the Shop at Lost Art Press
In the Works from Lost Art Press
We have a long list of books in the works here at Lost Art Press. Here is what we are working on right now:
“To Make as Perfectly as Possible” A translations of Andre Roubo's writings on marquetry by Don Williams and a team of translators, researchers and woodworkers. This book is also in our hands and is an enormous piece of work. More details on this book on the blog.
"Campaign Furniture" by Christopher Schwarz. This book on the neglected historical style will be complete by the end of 2013.
"Art of Joinery" by Joseph Moxon. Our fully revised and expanded edition of this classic woodworking text will be available by the end of 2013.
New from Lost Art Press