Long-Term Relationships

Long-Term Relationships

Published on Saturday, February 13, 2016. This article appears in the February/March 2016 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author Staff

The Artful Wooden Spoon: How to Make Exquisite Keepsakes for the Kitchen
By Joshua Vogel, photography by Seth and Kendra Smoot
Chronicle Books, $25

The title of this book suggests it is a how-to volume – and indeed, in these pages, you’ll find serious, thorough instruction on the tools, techniques, and skills required to craft beautiful spoons. What is unadvertised on the cover, however – and an utter delight – is Joshua Vogel’s heartfelt reflection on what it means to make in the modern world. “As I began work on the pieces for this compendium,” writes the seasoned woodworker, “I had a sense that the form was intriguing, but I wasn’t expecting to discover such a far-reaching and fundamental connection with the work.” It shows. Accompanied by 200-some gorgeous photographs, his fluid writing ranges from the history of the form to the rewards of craft itself, inviting readers into that rare space where meaning is as prized as method. ~Julie K. Hanus

What If Textiles: The Art of Gerhardt Knodel
By Gerhardt Knodel
Schiffer Publishing, $45

“The moment we pay attention to something, we are part of it,” Gerhardt Knodel observes in the opening of What If Textiles. Prepare, then, to find yourself absorbed in this immersive new chronicle of his life and work. Through his 37-year tenure at Cranbrook Academy of Art (first as a professor, then director) and his own career as a textile artist, Knodel has encouraged direct engagement as an essential means to understanding art. In that vein, What If Textiles is a multifaceted survey of Knodel’s creations, experiences, and collecting habits, complete with illuminating essays, historical photographs, a biography, and a chronology of his work from 1969 through 2014, when his innovative interactive exhibition “Let the Games Begin!” opened. As the volume’s title suggests, asking “What if?” is an intrinsic part of Knodel’s artistic process and philosophy of life – something readers are invited to ask themselves through this enchanting publication. ~Jessica Shaykett

The Furniture Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Identify, Restore, & Care for Furniture
By Christophe Pourny with Jen Renzi
Artisan, $35

Furniture restorer Christophe Pourny’s parents opened their first antiques store in the south of France when he was 5. He went on to apprentice at his uncle Pierre Madel’s famed Paris shop, before moving to New York in his 20s and hanging out his own shingle. And if, by some stretch, you don’t find that lineage sufficiently charming, then his Furniture Bible will leave you defenseless. In his first book, Pourny chronicles his craft with charismatic generosity. He begins with a solid foundation, covering period styles and design (depicted in pleasing watercolors), construction and components, even wood species. He then grants equal attention to traditional fine finishes and preparing pieces for restoration, before launching into more than a dozen finishing techniques, from a glistening French polish to water gilding. Completing the volume are recipes for finishes, a guide to tools, and maintenance tips. Whether you have a project in mind or just want to cultivate an appreciation for furniture, Pourny’s enthusiasm is infectious. ~Julie K. Hanus