Several years ago, really when I was just beginning to get a sense of myself in the shop and learning new skills everyday, I sat at a table with a couple of big names in woodworking. They were teaching classes at a "The Woodworking Show" stop in Milwaukee.
The person who asked me to sit and visit was kind and encouraging. He runs a woodworking school so that's only good business.
The second, a legendary figure in writing about hand tool woodworking was pretty aloof. I wasn't in his radar. It felt a little rude, but it was ok.
The third is a major figure in one of the bigger woodworking magazines. He was happy to talk to me, but he was also more than happy to shit all over any of my notions about hand tool woodworking and making any kind of living based around woodworking. At that point In my process I needed encouragement and guidance way more than cynicism and discomfiture I was handed. Reading between his lines it was obvious his view of woodworking was mostly reserved for old, retired, men.
The man is hailed as an leading educator and that only makes the experience so much more disappointing.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege to hang out and help Mike Seimsen teach a class that was exactly the opposite of my early encounter . . . well in Mike's own taciturn way. It was the continuation of the Baby Anarchist classes that Chris Schwarz started a year ago. It's subversive in all the ways I love. A low cost introduction to hand tool rehab, set up, and use focused on young energetic bodies.
It reminds me of the book Fight Club, with Tyler Durden branching out to start new clubs in new cities until the movement grew larger than the energy of one man.
When Chris retired from teaching it looked like this class would retire too, but Mike scheduled classes and continued the work, (with Chris's blessing and support). Watching the week long evolution of this group was inspiring. They have the tools, skill sets, and confidence it took me several years to find casting around on my own. I'm more than a little jealous.
I would like to see these classes multiply and find more teachers and venues. A Project Woodworking Mayhem spread across the country. Hell, I'd love the chance to teach one myself.
Mike is going to continue teaching the class, he's already finished a second session and I believe has another scheduled for the fall. If you are interested or find or hear someone who is, clue them in. I know these classes are also in need of donations of both tools and money to help them survive. Drop Mike an email and ask what he needs to continue.
Ratione et Passionis