Advertisement

The Queue: Megan Fitzpatrick

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.

The Queue: Megan Fitzpatrick

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.
Winter 2024 issue of American Craft magazine
Fitzpatrick inside a custom oversize tool chest she built for a client, 25 x 52 x 28 in. Photo by Christopher Schwarz.

Fitzpatrick inside a custom oversize tool chest she built for a client, 25 x 52 x 28 in. Photo by Christopher Schwarz.

Fitzpatrick’s cat JJ climbs on a variation on the Jennie Alexander ladder-back chair. Lost Art Press posthumously published Alexander’s Make a Chair from a Tree: Third Edition in 2021. Photo by Megan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick’s cat JJ climbs on a variation on the Jennie Alexander ladder-back chair. Lost Art Press posthumously published Alexander’s Make a Chair from a Tree: Third Edition in 2021. Photo by Megan Fitzpatrick.

Wood and words commune in Megan Fitzpatrick’s multi-pronged practice.
Megan Fitzpatrick has long been a teacher. She pursued a PhD in Shakespearean literature at the University of Cincinnati and taught English classes there while moonlighting as an editor at Popular Woodworking. Her encounters with woodworking shaped her life in ways she couldn’t have imagined. “I planned to resign from the magazine once I finished my PhD, to go off to teach Shakespeare,” she says. “Instead, I resigned from academia when I fell in love with woodworking.” Longtime colleague and collaborator Christopher Schwarz, the cofounder and publisher of the decidedly old-school Lost Art Press, hired her as editor there in early 2022. Fitzpatrick teaches woodworking classes at Lost Art’s Covington, Kentucky, offices and workshop, guiding students through building benches, chairs, trays, and more. She is currently working on a how-to book on building a Dutch tool chest for the imprint, which is scheduled to be published in 2024. Sarah Marriage wrote about Fitzpatrick and Lost Art Press in “A Hardworking Press” in the Winter 2024 issue of American Craft.

lostartpress.com | @1snugthejoiner

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
Most of my woodworking takes place while teaching it (I teach mostly hand tool beginners). I missed teaching when I resigned from academia, but I’ve since found that teaching woodworking is even more fun than teaching English literature—the students want to be there, and there’s no grading! (And now I can read literature for fun rather than with an eye toward writing quizzes.)

Your careers in publishing and woodworking have grown in tandem. How have they informed each other?
I love editing and working with authors almost as much as I love cutting dovetails and working with students, but I’d hate to do either of those things full-time. I am incredibly lucky to have a mix of intertwined vocations that—bonus—help to feed me and my cats. Being able to go back and forth between makes both better.

Tell us about one Lost Art Press project you’re particularly proud of.
I love them all (well, mostly), but if I had to pick one: the third edition of Jennie Alexander’s Make a Chair from a Tree. It was a years-long project that finally came to fruition with the help of some of her close friends. Not only an important craft book, it serves as an elegy for Jennie and her life’s work.

What are your favorite woodworking tools, and why?
I have a bad habit of acquiring marking knives simply because they’re pretty. And dovetail saws—I have at least five of them (though in my defense, I loan some of them out as needed during classes). But my favorite tool to use is the router plane, particularly for cleaning up the bottom of a hand-cut dado. It’s just so satisfying to zip out that last bit of remaining waste, and end up with a smooth bottom.

Fitzpatrick (second from right) poses with her students and their handiwork after a three-day Dutch tool chest class in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association.

Fitzpatrick (second from right) poses with her students and their handiwork after a three-day Dutch tool chest class in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association.

If you could have work from any contemporary wood artist for your home, whose would it be and why?
A small sculptural piece from Toshio Odate—he’s one of the few makers I know who lives a life analogous to what he espouses in his work. I’ve learned a great deal from him about grace, patience, and reverence for the natural.

Which wood artists, exhibitions, or projects do you think the world should know about, and why?
One of the more important projects in woodworking right now, which as far as I know has not happened before, is the concerted effort to make the craft more accessible to anyone interested, no matter their race, gender, economic situation, et cetera, and particularly people traditionally underrepresented in woodworking, including women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ people. Examples with which I’ve been involved are the scholarship programs at the Florida School of Woodwork and The Chairmaker’s Toolbox.

Stack of American Craft magazines.

Want to learn more about all of the craft artists you love?

Become an ACC member to receive a complimentary subscription to American Craft magazine and gain complimentary access to our shows, travel deals, and more!

Join today to get your subscription

Advertisement