Now in the store: “A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity”


You’d be hard-pressed to find a work more influential in inspiring M&T’s values and philosophy than A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity, written by Bill Coperthwaite. And now, we’re delighted to announce we are offering this book in our store.

Originally published in 2002 by Chelsea Green (White River Junction, VT), A Handmade Life brings its readers on a meandering path of exploration. Coperthwaite spent his life honing a habit of simplicity, learning new skills and gleaning what he could from the many cultures he experienced in his travels. He ventured around the world to teach yurt construction, and never failed to bring home some new insight or handmade object to contemplate. Coperthwaite was always asking questions: Why do we do things this way? Is there a better method, a simpler one, a quieter one? Do I need electricity and running water, or can I do without? His life was designed as experiment, and he looked closely at every detail. 

Over the years, Coperthwaite tended his philosophy like he tended his woodland trails, plucking out weeds and bridging muddy places until he presented it to his readers as a smooth, well-worn footpath we’re invited to follow. He sometimes stops and pulls out a magnifying glass to examine a tiny flower or some unique handcraft tradition that he discovered, and sometimes he steps back to look at a much broader vista: the beauty of taking time to paddle a canoe, the ways we teach our children, the problems of a violent society. Coperthwaite challenges us on every page. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this book is simply ethereal philosophy. It is full of completely practical instruction (even with measurements!) for making a host of handmade objects. You might walk away with a new chair, or axe, or a set of carved foxes, or a box made of birch bark in the Siberian tradition. You’ll likely feel the call to go outside and split some firewood. And you will certainly be changed. 

Joshua and I are thrilled to offer this book to our readers. We hope that you find it a heartening catalyst (as we have) to examine your life, to work with your hands, to seek to love your neighbor and beautify your small part of this world we all share.

A Handmade Life can now be purchased here

~Mike