Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Before I had ever made my first chair, I looked to this book as a compass to help guide and inspire me. I first saw it on the shelf of a 1740's bed and breakfast that Sue and I used to visit outside of New Paltz, NY. We later got married in the living room of the B &B and I designed my house to approximate its warmth. I loved sitting in front of a fire, reading about how beams were hewn and then looking up to see the telltale chop marks on the beams overhead. A Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane (available through Amazon etc...) isn't just a romantic view to the past. I think that for those interested in hand tool use, it clarifies the important relationship of between utility and simplicity. The beautifully rendered images of tools and their uses demonstrate the connection between the tools and the survival of those that wielded them. These folks weren't trying to be romantic, they were trying not to starve and freeze, and by doing so, they found remarkably elegant solutions to the problems they faced using simple tools and the materials at hand. Of course, most of us don't face these problems, but we are trying to have a relationship to the tools and materials that approximates this sense of self sufficiency and clarity. Anyone who has read my posts will notice that I rarely advise the purchase of anything, but to me, this little book is an essential, check it out.