• Saturday, October 17th, 2009

You know how it is. You are committed to a project, sweating the details, maybe doubting some design features, maybe doubting the entire aesthetic or structural concept of the project, and wondering whether anyone will ever care about the joint you are fitting or the curve you are shaping. You may wonder if you will later care, or even remember, about a design decision or construction detail that now seems so vexing.

Don’t worry, you care and so do many others who will appreciate your work. This is an important part of Krenov’s message, that your work matters, that it matters to do it well, and that it will be appreciated by not everyone, but enough people to make the effort worthwhile. People can and will discover that “quiet joy.”

Last week I had the privilege and pleasure to display my work at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton, Massachusetts, a high quality juried show with 260 booths in a variety of craft media including glass, ceramics, jewelry, painting, fiber, wood, and furniture. The three-day show was very well attended, attracting lots of folks with a well-nurtured appreciation of fine craft.

Yes, people notice; they get it. It was exciting to see people running their hands along a curved table leg, inspecting exposed joinery, asking about matching figures in the wood, feeling the gentle action of drawers and door catches, taking in subtle design elements, and so forth. The pieces on which I had lavished mental and physical efforts were now able to stand on their own, to just be what they are with no required annotation or message while people discovered them. In this way, these objects support a meeting of aesthetic minds between maker and appreciator which is gratifying for both.

It is worth staying with it on that project because you and others will share that quiet joy. That is a path to happy woodworking.

Category: Ideas
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17 Responses

  1. 1

    Rob –

    Congratulations on the show. Your booth is spectacular. I love those pieces and I can just imagine there were a lot of appreciative guest running their hands along those gentle curves. Outstanding!


  2. 2
    Bartee Lamar 

    Thanks for your observation.

    I agree. I have completed my Box 1 project and sold it to a guy a work. I has been on my desk at work for a few weeks. Many of my colleges have stopped by and it’s interesting to watch them as the pick it up, caress it and see the details of the simple construction.

    I am one of those people who would stop by your booth and caress your curves.

    It does make a difference.

    Best of luck that some of these lookers will be buyers so that we all may continue our craft into art journey.

  3. 3


    Thanks for the comments. Hey, and just to be clear, we’re talking about the curves on the furniture, okay. Haha.


  4. 4

    Glad you posted this. Sometimes when I am working out a problem on a project, I wonder if anyone will really care if it isn’t just perfect. I’ll keep trying to make it so.

  5. 5


    Or at least up to the standard that you want.


  6. Rob,

    Great post. I especially like the idea of experiencing a “quiet joy” from our work.

    The work you displayed in your booth looks to be outstanding! I hope that the show went well for you.

    The Craftsman’s Path

  7. 7

    Thanks, Mark. That phrase of Krenov’s, “quiet joy,” from the Afterword of With Wakened Hands, is one of my favorites.


  8. 8

    Your post brought a question to my mind – one that may have been asked and answered a hundred times already – I wonder if this “Who Cares?” phenomenon is caused or simply exacerbated by the fact that our woodworking pursuits tend to be a solitary activity?

    While no where near the skill level you are, it’s nice to know this condition exists across a spectrum of skill sets.

    Thanks for committing the feeling to words.

  9. Hey Rob,
    I care… :)

    nicely said and great looking booth.
    keep well.

  10. 10


    Yes, I agree, the isolation is part of it, but I guess the same question sometimes occurs to anyone trying to do a good job at something that isn’t easy.


    Thanks very much. And congratulations on the book!!


  11. 11
    Mark Hunt 

    Its lovely work, but did any one care enough to buy? I hope so :-)

  12. 12

    I don’t make furniture for a living, so maybe that’s makes a difference, but I just try to satisfy (dare I say delight) myself. I think I would become schizo if I tried to imagine other people’s reactions and desires as I went along. I wouldn’t know which way to go.

  13. 13

    Yea, Sean, I see what you’re saying. I wouldn’t say I work while anticipating other people’s reaction to the finished piece. It more like this: I’ve got to have a belief in the goodness of the fundamental design and construction concepts of the piece. That compels me to want to make it. From there, it’s about trusting that it matters enough to me to do it well, and there will also be at least a few people who will also appreciate it when it’s done.

    Yea, it’s got to be right with me first.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Sean.


  14. Rob, great post and your booth, plus the contents, are outstanding. I believe we who do any craft are or own worst crtics to begin with, so if anyone should care, it should be the person who did the work. For the fact that we are reading your post shows “we care” Kepp up the great work.

  15. 15

    Rick, thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading.


  16. 16
    Joe Zeh 


    I just visited your site to read the last installment (10) of drawer series. I hadn’t been there since mid or early September. I missed that fact that you were showing in Northampton. I am really bummed I didn’t pick that up. I would have very much liked to have visited your booth.

    I’ll tell you who cares. I do. I love that piece you just finished. Keep up the great work.


  17. 17

    Hi Joe,

    You’re very kind, thanks.

    I apologize, I should have posted the information about the show earlier, especially since you’re in that neck of the woods. It would have been fun for us to talk shop out there.