There are only a few pivotal moments in life – those moments which fundamentally change your course or lead down an unexpected path. Much of life is really incremental in nature; layers of small decisions or events which slowly accumulate until you find yourself on a particular path. That’s all very profound, but what does it have to do with woodwork? Let me explain. There are three key pivotal moments that I can think of in my adult life – enrolling at Totnes in 2007 (the first real woodwork I had ever done, and which ignited a love of handwork that continues to propel me), lunch at the Evil Eye in York with Dr Moss in August 2007, which twelve years on is still the best lunch decision I’ve ever made, and signing up to the Anarchist’s Tool Chest class with Chris.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the start of the Anarchist’s Tool Chest class, and I have been reflecting on how that class changed my life. It fostered an interest in furniture making, which expanded my focus from lutherie, and gave me a new set of core skills I use when building furniture. It introduced me to someone I am lucky to consider a friend and mentor, as well as a wider community of good friends spread across the globe. And I got to share a bench for five days with a good buddy from university. All good things. But it was also this class which kickstarted my writing career – something I’d not previously considered, save for this blog. Blogging every day about the class (which you can read: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5), led to Derek Jones kindly inviting me to write for Furniture & Cabinetmaking, which in turn lead to articles for Popular Woodworking and a book deal with Lost Art Press. Which means that the class has led to assignments, and research trips in Inverness, the South of France, Glasgow, London, Pembrokeshire, Amana, and soon, Kentucky. Not to mention exhibiting at EWS 2015 and 2017, and the Midlands Woodwork Show earlier this year.
All of these came about because of that class, and I cannot imagine what life would be like if I had not have spent that week in Leamington Spa five years ago.
There seems to be a certain poetry in travelling to Kentucky to teach an Anarchist’s Tool Chest class at the Lost Art Press storefront. And I am really excited about teaching this class. I can’t promise my students that the class will be life changing for them, but I can promise that we will make some memories (as well as many, many dovetails) and have a lot of fun in the process.