This concise, lyrical book is much more than a ‘how to’ manual for building a piece of furniture, but the record of a heartfelt quest for authenticity in the whole personality. It is full of vital lessons on reclaiming our humanity from the ruling culture of artless fakery, and will benefit anyone who is serious about creative endeavor. You might even be inspired to build a chair.
– James Howard Kunstler – author of the World Made By Hand novels and many other books.
Enjoyed! An elegy to loss, recovery, creativity, and fearlessness--and chairs!
– Susan Piver is a Buddhist teacher, a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and the New York Times bestselling author of 8 books, most recently Start Here Now on Shambhala.
The manual for challenging yourself to a creative triumph wrapped in the story of one man’s journey to self-love.
– Susan Bratton – Relationship Expert, Personal Life Media. Inc.
"Stop and smell the hardwood. Randy Gafner managed to not only do that but rediscover himself in this extraordinarily simple yet complex journey”.
Andy Field, Anchor and Reporter
ABC Radio News
Randy offers us an excellent view into the maker’s world, describing many things I have experienced but have never seen put into words. He helps dispel the fear of the unknown or at least instructs us that it is perfectly normal to experience it. He also gives us tools to overcome the various roadblocks in the maker’s path. This is an instructive and enjoyable book for anyone who creates objects.
– Dianne Ayres – Arts & Crafts Period Textiles. www.TextileStudio.com
Randall uses the building of his Morris Chair as a metaphor for the building of a plan for your life. While the woodworker and Arts and Crafts devotee will end his workshop experience laced with insightful details, anyone without any woodworking experience or any association with the Arts and Crafts movement will come away inspired to utilize Randall’s insight to craft their own personal identity.
– Bruce Johnson – Author, Columnist and Director of the National Arts & Crafts Conference at The Grove Park Inn since 1988
Using the metaphor of constructing a Morris Chair, Randy invites you to journey with him as he carefully articulates life-changing discoveries, each one offering a vision of new life.
– Donald G. Tritt, Ph.D. – Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Denison University
There is a deep satisfaction in making something with your own two hands. In “Zen and the Art of Making a Morris Chair,” Randy Gafner spends a year building a beautiful chair. Along the way, he makes a few mistakes, learns a great deal about tools and woodworking and gets to know himself a little better. He also discovers and shares many simple and eternal truths.
In our busy lives where our work often does not produce something tangible, there is a lot to be learned and enjoyed by making something. Maybe it’s a Morris Chair, maybe it’s a loaf of artisanal bread or a hand-knit sweater. The sheer degree of concentration these activities demand alone is a centering exercise to calm the jitters induced by this multitasking world of ours. Making something also offers us a chance for creativity and achievement in a whole new realm that may change the way we view ourselves.
Take the journey with Randy and you just may be inspired to embark on one of your own.
– Melody Kimmel
SVP of Media Training at MSLGROUP
It’s an engaging read with some great life lessons experienced by Randy Gafner while making an iconic chair from the Arts and Crafts movement.
His take struck a chord with me as a novice maker of metal objects. I went through a similar process with all the fear, self doubt, set backs, satisfaction, overreach, community building, and sense of accomplishment. You definitely learn about yourself in attempting to make something of substance with challenging materials and techniques. As you create you make yourself with all the vulnerability implicit in the process and there’s no place to hide - your creation is out there for everyone, including yourself to see. A bit scary, lots of fun, leaving you thirsty for more.
– Franco Ruffini – retired historic preservation officer and metal fabricator
A mid-19th century artist [William Morris] whose back-to-the basics philosophy influenced a later generation of Arts and Crafts artists and will continue to inspire... “Zen and the Art of Making a Morris Chair” is one chair and one voice but in nite journeys!”
– Christine Pfister – Director & Owner of Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia. www.pentimenti.com
About the Author
Randy Gafner has been associated with the makers movement for decades. He feels that creative process and action breeds self-reliance and self-expression which leads to more fulfillment and higher quality of life. He thinks that in this post-modern era everyone would benefit by making more of their own things using their ideas, skills, and abilities drawn from across the creative spectrum.
Gafner has worked for over 25 years as a national and international video-journalist and communications professional. He is a skilled jazz musician, a proficient craftsman and an eager world traveller. Ever the inveterate life long learner, he recently completed a MA degree in Health Communication from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.