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JOEL Joel's Blog

A Sense of Community


Bill Robertson's miniature toolkit on display at Handworks 2015
Bill Robertson's miniature toolkit on display at Handworks 2015

As we head off to Handworks 2017, I find myself really looking forward to the feeling I have had at the two previous Handworks show, namely, being part of a community.

In a way, it's not a shock that the marvelous tool show that Jameel, Father John and the whole Handworks team have developed should inspire such a feeling. After all, we assemble together from all parts of the country, diverse in our backgrounds, political views and other interests, but united in our great appreciation and involvement in woodworking and hand tools. For the time we are together, our unity and sense of purpose is evident.

Surprisingly, lately I have been feeling a sense of community from a less obvious (to me, anyway) source: Instagram.
Tools for Working Wood's Instagram account was built up by thirtysomething TFWWers, visual artists who were already on Instagram. Initially Instagram participation seemed like one more item on a Things To Do list, so I wasn’t sold. But more recently I’ve been surprised how much I’ve enjoyed playing - both as a exhibitor and as a viewer.

Look! There’s a beautiful piece of furniture handcrafted in Australia. Look! Flowers and produce from Hepzibah Farms, the Talledega, Alabama farm owned by Charlie, TFWW’s very first employee. Look, there’s an amazing guitar crafted by our customer. Look, a new Lost Art Press book. A new tool, a new cabinet, a new celebrant of our ancient craft of woodworking.

By giving me a chance to see their work, and by tipping their hats - with “likes,” comments, and questions - to my news, we establish community.

Over the next couple of days some of us with come full circle, as Instagram friends meet in person for the first time at Handworks -- and real-life admirers become Instagram followers. These actions will add a welcome new dimension to our relationships, but fundamentally we already have something important in place: a shared sense of community.

The picture above is of a miniature toolkit and other items by Bill Robertson, who showed off some of his work at Handworks 2015. One of the nation's foremost miniaturists, he works to dollhouse scale so that lathe is only a few inches long. Everything Bill makes actually works - which is totally amazing. I am looking forward to seeing him again this week.

Join the conversation
05/17/2017 Norb Kell
Nice post Joel. I hope to meet you at Handworks this year. In 2015 I wandered around looking at tools. This year I hope to also look for instagram friends. Introducing my oldest son to the community. Have a safe trip.
05/17/2017 Dan Moerman
Thanks so much to the reference to David Esterly's book. I just finished it, and it is a magnificent testimony to craft and work and dedication. I'm an old retired guy, originally a college professor, but this book has renewed my attention to craft work. Not carving; I'll never carve as he can, but I can indeed, if I work at it, add his inspiration to my turnings. Thank you a million times over for introducing me to his work. dan
05/18/2017 Mike Wallace
Hello Joel
First,thanks for making my emails so pleasant to read. Just spent a weekend up in Warren,Maine learning saw sharpening at Lie Nielsen Toolworks. Unbelievable class. I learned so much. I brought along my Gramercy saw vise I bought a few years ago. Boy did that baby get a lot of attention. Your sales may have picked up a bit,due to my overzealous description of how well it works. My files and saw teeth covers from TFWW also attracted interest. When you speak of community know the the folks at Lie Nielsen and Isaac Smith our instructor had nothing but great things to say about you and your company. Blessings. Mike
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.