Open For Interpretation

So you want to write a book . . .

25 inches tall.

63.2 pounds.

God only knows how many words and images are in this stack.

Would you believe it's missing a few books I borrowed to my daughter? They have disappeared into the book and craft cavern we call her room. Would you believe I could have added more off my bookshelves? Would you believe this doesn't constitute the rarer books I have traveled to university libraries to read and the pile of digital manuscripts and books I've gone over would probably tower over this stack by double.

I have put a good amount of my life on hold for this book. I desperately want to read through my copy of Peter Galbert's "The Chairmaker's Notebook" but I won't let myself just yet. I want to start organizing classes to teach. I want to query and submit more magazine articles.

I want to have this book done.

I know I haven't posted anything on this blog for two months. I hate reading posts on beloved blogs that have been mostly abandoned that start out, "Holy shit it's been a longtime since I've posted. Guess I've been busy. But my new years resolution is to post at least once every other week."  Then another six months goes by before another apology floats.

So no apologies here. I don't have researchers and friends to help fill in the gaps. Honestly that's not my style either.

I'm working hard on the book. There is a burden of research I feel I have to carry because I'm not a doctoral candidate in European Medieval History or Archeology, or Art History or any tag that takes thousands of dollars in borrowed money to buy. I am not part of the academic establishment. I stand apart.

As far as I can tell I've found just about every relatable work written on medieval furniture, including works I have to translate piecemeal from French. They are all art historians and museum curators. With the exception of a few online enthusiasts, none are connected to the actual craft of making these pieces. They know words like "Mortise" and "Tenon" and "Dovetail" and "Age of Oak" by dictionary definition. They're missing the blue collar, dirt under my fingernails, at the workbench with saw in hand understanding that tells me those terms are more than words. They're fundamentals.

Acceptance is important as a human being and I truly hope, even though I'm not one of the crowd, academia will make some room for acceptance of my work once it's finished, I do call into question some of the things they've taken for granted. More importantly I hope my work is accepted by other makers interested in the history and even the styles. It's my biggest fear, nearly paralyzing, to be dismissed as widely missing the mark and fail at this work.

I can't wait until I'm far enough along to send it along to several critical people so they can tear it apart, and thereby make it stronger.

It's that fear that makes me overload on research. It's that pressure I hope will compress this lump of organic matter into diamonds. But it takes time.

Ratione et Passionis

P.S.  There is one book I reference a lot, but have little access to. "Mediaeval Furniture: Furniture in England, France, and the Netherlands from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Century" By Penelope Eames. I consider it the most accessible and well presented works on the subject (let's say so far) Her approach to research stretched farther than many others even tried. Most importantly her work is on the furniture without prejudice, this is also unique. Other authors on the subject (I'm looking specifically at you Gloag and Mercer) seemed intent on critically judging the work as they were writing about it.

The closest copy is at the Kohler Library in Madison WI, a two plus hour drive - one way. It's unavailable to check out. I can only go there and read it. The purchase price of a used copy is well beyond my means at a couple hundred dollars.

I'm asking. If anyone has a copy on their bookshelves and would consider lending it to me for a period of time. I would treasure having an easy reference to it for the time being. Please drop me an email at if you can find a way to help me out.

Thank you

P.S.S. Thank you thank you for the awesome and rapid support!!  I am covered.  You guys are fantastic!



  1. Derek, I have to admire your ambition and your willingness to act upon it. This places you in a small percentage of the population in general. I have jealously watched you over a period of years developing and perfecting your skills and knowledge and have lived vicariously through you. No matter the results of this book, you have tread a path very few have done and I admire the hell out of you for it. Bon chance, Mon Ami!



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