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JOEL Joel's Blog

Nancy Hiller 1959-2022, RIP

08/31/2022

Nancy Hiller 1959-2022
Nancy Hiller 1959-2022

“I’m planning to bring a pinata,” Nancy told us, when we were finalizing the details of the publication party we hosted for Nancy’s book, English Arts & Crafts Furniture. “That’s okay, right? It’s gonna be fun.”

Most authors celebrating the publication of a thoughtful book representing years of their hard work expect the celebration to be of them. Nancy Hiller, who lost her battle against cancer this week, took it upon herself to make sure no one got left behind in the fun. So she brought the pinata and would have brought more food and drink had we not assured her we had that covered. But of course the party didn’t need props or more refreshments. The party was a party because Nancy was there.

Nancy’s death leaves a big void. She was an extraordinary craftswoman, writer and mentor. Life threw devastating challenges - family instability, disease, death of her beloved stepson - and she responded with courage – and also humor and joy. In addition to writing scores of instructional essays for all the major woodworking magazines, Nancy wrote two fascinating memoirs, Making Things Work and Shop Tails, about her unusual path to erudite woodworking, from University of Cambridge to a vocational program in cabinetmaking, that are imbued with generosity and grace despite the many difficulties she faced. Her very recent Lost Art Press blog post about a new book, Joinery, Joists and Gender, which recognized not only its author, but the numerous other curators and thinkers who had been instrumental in the book’s publication, was so gracious and beautifully written, we went out and purchased a case of the books. As Nancy herself wrote in Shop Tails, “To savor this jewel of a life that I patched together as a salve while fleeing old wounds and trying to prove myself to others, and use my abilities for a greater good - this was reason to live.”

Rest in peace. We will miss you.

- Sally Bernstein

Join the conversation
08/31/2022 Yoav Liberman
Joel, that book signing party and Nancy's pinata was an event I will never forget. Nancy was greater than life, a force of nature in so many gentle, pristine and decisive ways.
08/31/2022 Hugo
Une Grande Dame. Une artisane hors pair . D’une gentillesse exceptionnelle et généreuse de son temps . Une grande perte pour la Communauté des Artisans.
08/31/2022 Anthony
She was my mentor and hero. A truly amazing person. I learned a great deal from her and cherish her memory.
08/31/2022 AlanWS
I knew her through her writing, and that made her important to me. We all aspire to respond to challenges with her judgement and grace.
08/31/2022 Paul Bailey
My condolences
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