Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Buy This Magazine

The 2012 issue of Woodwork (magazine) has been out since the end of November and, if you haven't yet pick up your copy, I highly recommend you do it soon.  Unfortunately, you'll have to find a pretty good newsstand to find it, I picked mine up at Barnes and Noble, airports are probably also a good bet as well as some woodworking tool stores. If you can't find a newsstand with it, it is still worth ordering directly from their publisher, which I did last year because, even at an additional $8 for shipping, it was still cheaper than making a special trip to Burlington.

Would that it came out more than once a year, as it used to, but I know to at least be thankful that it is still being published. Thankfully, this issue has a dearth of "how to" articles. As far as I'm concerned, the step by step instructions of building someone else's design that are typical mainstays of woodworking magazines are really boring -- I always skip them. Instead, Woodwork focuses on wood artist profiles, thoughts, and history, as well as inspirational and enthralling photos of contemporary wood art from various shows around the country. 

As a yearly publication, it probably isn't the best venue for serial story telling but, interestingly, Toshio Odate is doing just that with his fascinating story about "Mighty Oak," a tree with an almost six foot diameter trunk. Last year he explained how he came upon and transported it to his property; this year is he covers the process of cutting a six inch slab from its center. I'm guessing that next year we'll learn how he turned it into a magnificent table. It is unfortunate that we need to wait years to learn the whole process but, nonetheless, I love the story and learning about how he translates his deep respect for the tree into his art.  

Also, as a semi-continuation from last year is another thoughtful essay by Mark Love. Last year his piece titled Risk discussed how the potential for making a mistake, and losing hours of work, makes furniture making more interesting; this year, in his essay titled Temporary, he talks about how finding an old and forgotten brick mosaic in his backyard related to his career path and the quality of work he now makes. 

There are several artist profiles that provide great lessons in perseverance for aspiring artists. Of particular interest is Terry Martin's piece on Todd Hoyer because it is more than biography -- it gives his work context by showing how his biography has been reflected in his sculpture.

I also found the Katherine Adams piece on Christy Oates's furniture fascinating because it provides in depth insight into her process and methods. For instance, it is interesting to learn that her love of origami and her practical need to furnish a small apartment inspired her ingenious wallpaper furniture (a recent acquisition by the Smithsonian Museum of American Art).

Several articles also provide historical stories that help to give context to contemporary furniture; for example, Peter Korn's discussion about the influences of Alan Peter's designs on his own work; the article by Caroline Hannah and Mark Sfirri on Henry Varnum Poor and his close relationship with Wharton Esherick; and Tom Casper's discussion of Henry Lapp's19th century sketchbook.

Overall, the magazine is a well written, full of beautiful images, and educational. It provides a valuable resource for learning both about contemporary wood art, and the artists behind the work, as well as historical information that enriches our understanding of current work. I believe it is well worth buying, even if you don't associate yourself with woodwork, because it provides valuable insight for anyone interested in art in general.