Why We Make Things and Why It Matters


The Education of a craftsman


PETER KORN

ALA BOOKLIST | NOVEMBER 1, 2013


    Drawing on his decades of experience handcrafting fine furniture, Korn’s previous books have primarily focused on teaching woodworking to neophytes, including the best-selling Woodworking Basics (2003). In this inspired departure from such how-to guides, Korn explores the fundamental reasons why he and other artistically inclined hobbyists and professionals passionately devote themselves to their craft, often for little recognition or monetary gain. Against the backdrop of a consumer marketplace saturated with machine-manufactured goods, Korn asks readers to consider what makes creative work so rewarding, what the nature of those rewards actually are, and what making things can reveal about our deeper nature. In answering these questions, Korn describes his own life as a crucible of self-discovery, recounting how his middle-class Philadelphia upbringing led to carpentry work, then designing furniture, then teaching woodworking, and finally to founding a furniture-making school in Maine. Written with as much attention to polished prose as the author gives to his woodworking, Korn’s book is a stirring testimonial for self-fulfillment through craftsmanship, whatever form it takes.  — Carl Hays