William Robbins
photo by Wayne Smith Photography, Martha's Vineyard

I remember, I must have been around 14, reading in “Popular Mechanics” or some other magazine about a craftsman who built internally supported spiral staircases and who may very well have been the last practitioner of his craft. That unsettling idea, of knowledge being lost forever was perhaps the spark that set me on a lifetime journey of discovery about making objects from wood.

In tandem with learning what I was able about wood the substance, and the employment of both traditional hand tool techniques as well as more mechanized methods, I had a deep seated curiosity about understanding the creative process and the quest for new ways to express beauty, elegance and emotion through, in my case, furniture.  That lifetime journey has followed a discernible path from trying to master the furniture forms I saw around me, to a period of deconstruction and randomness where there was no target except the process itself, and, most recently, analysis of each design; whether the function is enhanced by the distillation of the various elements into the essence of woodworking.  Why am I making this out of wood?  Is there something about the method I use to shape the wood and the wood itself which uniquely satisfies the requirements for the existence of this object?  If there is an answer to these questions the resulting furniture usually exhibits a logic if not necessarily a simplicity where the parts meld into a cohesive whole.

My concern that the knowledge of craftsmanship may disappear forever is not quite as compelling as it may have been in 1964. There are many many good young craftspeople out there.  I am glad for the chance to take the journey, the company has been most stimulating.