Back Stories

When the time comes around to pore over our authors’ newly submitted rough drafts, I can't help but reflect on the process for past issues of the magazine. It might be because we print the magazine “just” twice per year, or because we invest ourselves so heavily into our authors’ worlds and spend a ton of time with each and every sentence, or because we intentionally don’t recycle content, but every published article sticks out in memory with a funny or compelling story behind it.

Some, you might easily guess. For example, spending days hanging out with Roy Underhill for Issue Eight was a riot. We went for lunch one day at his favorite local burrito joint, then strolled to the woodshop/maker space next door just so Roy could say “hi” to everyone. He had never been in there before, but the awestruck reactions from the folks laboring at their projects were wonderful. I think he gave a word of encouragement to every person in that building. Class act, that man.

Also in Issue Eight was an article by brilliant tinkerer/boatbuilder/off-the-grid homesteader and woodworker extraordinaire Harry Bryan, who lives up the coast from us in New Brunswick. Joshua and I took a road trip to his place for a few days’ visit (stopping at Tim Horton’s along the way, of course), and we were both blown away by Harry’s thoughtful genius in every little detail of his shop and home. He showed us his sawmill, hauled down from Nova Scotia in an ancient Volkswagen with bottomed-out suspension, which originally ran on steam but was retrofit to be powered by an old Chevy engine. We also saw several of Harry’s cars that he’d built out of wood – yes, automobiles – that had lasted his family quite a while before he removed the engines and pushed them into the woods to return to compost.

Our interview with thoughtful maker Peter Lamb in Issue Seven sticks out to me as one of the most inspiring and gracious visits I’ve ever had. Peter’s loving care of the artifacts and handmade objects he has collected and been gifted from around the world was quite moving. The visit culminated with a paddle around the harbor in a birch bark canoe – truly, one of the highlights of my life.

There are countless more. 

Of course, there are other stories that are less sublime but no less memorable. The last-minute scrambling for image permissions from obscure European museums; those articles that just didn’t work out in the end and had to be scrapped; the time we almost couldn’t find paper to print the magazine on due to global shortages... Those kinds of things. This process never fails to be interesting. Issue Fourteen, I am sure, will be no exception.


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