The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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I hardly knew you.

I heard it through the grapevine, aka Peter Follansbee’s Blog-Joiners Notes, that Follansbee will be leaving his long tenured job at Plimoth Plantation to pursue other interests. Here is what I know about Peter Follansbee, almost nothing. My knowledge of him begins and ends with a bio of Follansbee I read in Popular Woodworking, the couple of times I’ve seen him on The Woodwright’s Shop, and the handful of times I’ve read his blog.

As far as my knowledge of Follansbee is concerned, or maybe you would call it ignorance, there are a few factors to consider. I’ve seen Follansbee’s work on the internet and in print, and while it’s definitely unique and skilled, it really isn’t my cup of tea, and I didn’t particularly care for the way Follansbee came across in the interview he did with PW magazine. At that, I would never pass judgment on a person’s character after reading a three-page magazine bio. I enjoyed the two times I saw him on the Woodwright’s Shop. It was interesting to watch him work, and I honestly enjoyed the way he spoke, somewhat like Bane from the last Batman movie but without special effects on the vocals. So while I’ve never been to Plimoth Plantation and probably never will be, there is a small part of me that’s sad to see Peter Follansbee leaving.

The furniture world may not keel over and die due to a shortage of carved 16th century chests and spoons, but it is an oddly comforting thought to know that a few people still know how to make them in the traditional sense. Most people would acknowledge that Follansbee’s work has a real beauty to it, almost a religious beauty, and that’s something to be missed. I’ve said before that the world needs people like Peter Follansbee and Roy Underhill, just to remind us of the past and the way things used to be done, but it seems that more and more of them are disappearing.

The only part of this that leaves me really wondering is why he is leaving. To paraphrase Follansbee, he is leaving “the best job on the planet”. Why? Well I’m sure there are many reasons why, both personal and professional. It’s not my place to question Peter Follansbee’s motives, and truthfully I’m really not. When I ask “why?” it’s in the broad sense, because over the past few years several prominent woodworkers and writers all quit “the best job on the planet”. I’m not sure how old Follansbee actually is, but he doesn’t look old enough to retire, wild Moses beard notwithstanding, and I can say the same of others that have left their posts. Call it over curiosity, or just being newsy, but there is just something that makes me wonder why somebody would quit such a great job. Maybe it is none of my business, but I still wonder. Or maybe the real truth is that I’m probably just a little jealous.

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