Why We Make Things and Why It Matters

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Why We Make Things and Why It Matters

The Education of a Craftsman

Peter Korn, Traber Burns


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In this moving account, Peter Korn explores the nature andrewards of creative practice. We follow his search for meaning as anIvy-educated child of the middle class who finds employment as a novicecarpenter on Nantucket, transitions to self-employment as a designer and maker offine furniture, takes a turn at teaching and administration at Colorado’sAnderson Ranch Arts Center, and then founds a school in Maine: the Centerfor Furniture Craftsmanship, an internationally respected nonprofitinstitution.

Furniture making practiced as a craft in the twenty-firstcentury is a decidedly marginal occupation. Yet the view from the peripherycan be illuminating. For Korn the challenging work of bringing something newand meaningful into the world through one’s own volition—whether in the arts,the kitchen, or the marketplace—is what generates the meaning and fulfillment that so many of us seek.

This is not a how-to book in any sense. Korn wants to getat the why of craft in particular and the satisfactions of creative work ingeneral to understand their essential nature. How does the making of objectsshape our identities? How do the products of creative work inform society? Inshort, what does the process of making things reveal to us about ourselves?Korn draws on four decades of hands-on experience to answer these questionseloquently, and often poignantly, in this personal, introspective, and revealingbook.