Foreword Reviews

A Craftsman's Legacy

A Craftsman’s Legacy cover art


And the Lit Hit goes to Eric Gorges’s A Craftsman’s Legacy: Why Working with Our Hands Gives Us Meaning, a delightful study of the theories, practices, demons, and angels that shape how master artisans go about their work. You should care because soul-satisfaction seems to be a unique privilege of the men and women who work creatively in wood, stone, metal, and other base materials.

You should also care because artisans rely heavily on tradition—a vital component of human progress. The best artisans, we know, are also careful not to let the practices of previous generations inhibit their creativity. The Newton-inspired craftsman’s credo seems to be that if they go further than others in their craft, it is by standing on the shoulders of their “giant” predecessors.

Gems of insight appear on nearly every page. In a passage on the value of failure, Gorges credits clockmaker Nathan Bower with the realization that “maybe we’re not really built to learn from success. Our minds do not glom onto it in the way that they do with failure. … getting comfortable with what failure has to offer is enormously valuable.” In another bravo example, Gorges cites champion mixed martial arts teacher Frank Shamrock with designing a system for his students that any artisan might benefit from: “All his fighters need someone to learn from, someone to teach, and someone at their level to compete with. It’s a way to maintain continuous and valuable feedback about where you are in your craft, giving you the bigger picture.”

Eric Gorges is the host of the television show A Craftsman’s Legacy and the owner of Voodoo Choppers, a Detroit custom motorcycle shop.

A Craftsman’s Legacy, by Eric Gorges, with Jon Sternfeld, Algonquin Books, Hardcover, $24.95, (256pp), 978-1-61620-836-3

Matt Sutherland

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