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Monday, 02 November 2020


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When you are out and about you may find this link useful. Spanish link but in English.

Interior shots... 14mm?

[No, all the pictures were done with my Fuji 23mm ƒ/2 (35mm-e). --Mike]

I was thinking about your part of the world before reading this. Many years ago I read Vonnegut`s Guide To The Finger Lakes (Hocus Pocus). Yesterday I finished listening to the audio version. Both very good.

My father was a Master Craftsman with wood. This reminded me of the years of joy spent in his company, being his offsider. As in "Here, hold this buddy", while he'd he'd live his ethos of 'if it's worth doing, then do it properly'.

The one thing that caught my attention is that Andrew's shop is spotless. The floor is immaculate; not even a bit of sawdust. It is refreshing to know that this type of excellent
craftsmanship is still being practiced. Thank you, Mike, for documenting Andrew's work.

[That's funny, because when I tried to take an overall view of the shop itself, Andrew quietly objected saying it wasn't very neat. :-) --Mike]

Surely it occurred to you, Mike, that the lighting in the spray booth could make for some interesting full-body portraits. Just hang a roll of seamless in front of the rear vents.

I really enjoyed this article. There is something very satisfying about seeing a skilled craftsman at work.

beautiful story

Nice spice rack & nice photo essay Mike.

I've been getting quite enthusiastic about woodworking over the the last couple of years, ( Enthusiastic but not necessarily any good at it ).

If you're after some serious furniture porn check this out:


( It's also beautifully filmed ).

We lived about an hour from Lancaster. It was a wonderful place to visit in the early 80’s. The Amish are still there but it’s overrun with house farms and tourists now. Not the same at all. As the Eagles said, “call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.” The place didn’t stand a chance with towns named Paradise and Intercourse. The thing we miss most after moving is the local Amish market. Best meat and vegetables we ever had.

You need to talk him into building wood 4x5 field cameras.

[I took the Wista out to show him! He was quite interested. --Mike]

Your photo essay suggests just how hypnotic it can be to watch a skilled craftsperson do his/her thing, particularly when the final product will be yours. It’s good to see you stretching your photo legs on a little project. A very healthy effort ... as long as you’re all masked!

Thanks for sharing that experience.

That's a beautiful spice rack, Mike. Very impressive work! My brother-in-law (up the road from you in Avon) is starting in on woodworking---he's really enjoying it so far. He got bored with just brewing, which he does a fantastic job with!

Horning is the name of a popular chair shop in Lancaster PA. My parents had a handmade Horning chair and table set in their dining room and my family has had a Horning chair and table set in our kitchen fro about 25 years. About half of our furniture in our house is Amish made.

[The name of Horning's Furniture was orginally Horning's Chair Shop, and many of the Amish and Mennonite families in this area originally moved here from Lancaster County. I wonder if there is any direct affiliation. Alvin has since retired and sold his business to one of his sons. --Mike]

As a professional woodworker and refinisher I find this interesting. Much more so than billiards as a matter of fact. That is a nice spice rack and as you have reported, such small projects are not profitable to build as if you compare it to building a bookcase, the only real savings is the amount of lumber, all the joinery is pretty much the same.
You would have had one difficulty with me though. Thanks to a ‘friend’ I have for years had a policy that starting with my basic shop rate, if you watch it increases by 50%, but if you ‘help’ the rate doubles. Productivity goes down severely with a person other than a trained helper in attendance.
Andrew probably is happy with the free advertising you have given him though so I would say you are off the hook 😎
Terry Letton

That spice rack is truly a fine work of art. The attention to detail in so "simple" a piece is telling. Each small detail enriches the whole. It is a work that will be passed down to future generations. I could imagine it in a antique shop in 100 or more years.

I forgot to mention- a business card without a web site to refer to on it! Amazing.

I now have spice rack envy . . . and wood shop envy as well. I left my tools (and shop) behind for a cross-country move so this really brings back the itch. I agree 100% with Andrew, you can never have enough clamps!

For spices I’ve got to put a plug in for Penzey's. I’ve generally been quite happy with the quality of their spices over the years. I tend to buy the single spices rather than blends, but that’s just me. No personal interest other than being a happy customer :)

A very nice spice rack and photo essay. Thanks Mike.

Thanks for the photo essay - glad to see large chains of mass-market goods haven’t pushed these shops out of business.
Could I please ask a question, borne of ignorance, which I’m seeking to remedy. It’s about the use of ‘modern’ technology (I guess pretty much anything using electricity or mechanical power) within these communities. Are some forms of technology not permitted (cars) and others allowed, or does it depend upon the given community and their particular beliefs?
Sorry, I’m trying to adhere to your policies on comments, and hopefully ask a question in a respectful way.

[You are. Don't worry. As I understand it, the various rules are determined by each group. Generally, Mennonites are a bit more permissive, Amish tend to be more strict. Most of the Mennonites around here are horse-and-buggy, but many use electricity for their work, and in some cases in their homes for lights. Amish men have beards (but never mustaches, which were considered to be for military men in Germany before they came here), Mennonites are often clean-shaven. I had a Mennonite housekeeper who drove a car and used a cellphone--different group. Andrew gave me a nice little book about Amish beliefs, telling me there is a good deal of overlap between what is outlined in the book and the beliefs of his group.

I'm just repeating what I've heard--I'm not knowledgeable about Mennonite beliefs! --Mike]

wow! This craftsman should restore old large format cameras!

Exquisite photo essay, sir. Thank you.

I would have put the engraving and the signature on the front part of the spice rack... it's a bit of a pity to have it hidden forever.

Hi Mike, 2 of my favourite things, craftsman at work and spices. After quietly reading your blog for many years I do feel as if I know your “personality” which is why I have to tell you I’m surprised, extremely surprised. You are a man who has takes a great interest in the many minor details of life, without looking back I particularly remember and enjoyed your journey with coffee, machines for roasting, different beans and the many different nuances of production to deliver a perfect brew, all lost on me, I drink tea (UK subject). There are many more examples which for me, makes your blog so interesting. My surprise is simply this, you appear to have mass produced store bought spices, what i ask?? And you store them in glass jars and freely admit that they are exposed to direct sunlight. Mike, I can hardly believe it. Could I be so bold as to recommend your turn your attention to sourcing your spices in a similar manner to how you once sourced your coffee beans, you will not regret this and nor will your taste buds. As a lead off and example, I buy all my spices from a company called Seasoned Pioneers here in the UK (they do ship to the US) so have a look for some inspiration, I’m sure there are US based equivalents. www.seasonedpioneers.com Unfortunately their spice packs (metallic pouches to protect from sunlight) may not fit so neatly into your beautiful new rack! Regards Brendan.

Great work, Mike; I thoroughly enjoyed the whole piece, both writing and photography....

Very nice bit of workmanship there!

But where will you keep the rest of the spices?

What was the price for the live edge table?

[I mentioned it in the next post...it's $8,000 with the six matching chairs (the seats are rustic hickory like the table) and the matching bench (which is another plank from, it looks like, the same log). It's the most expensive piece he's ever offered, so it might be there a while! --Mike]

Mike is obviously smarter than me. Many years ago, I attended my one-and-only photography workshop, run by David Hurn of MAGNUM. Among several lightbulb moments, one stunned me by revealing my lack of awareness of what I was seeing all the time in newspapers, magazines and books.

Hurn drew three rectangles, then filled the first with hangman style stick figures. (Spectators at an event, such as sport or a dance.) The second had two figures interacting with each other. (Boxers or a couple of girls dancing round their handbags.) The third showed a close up of an excited human face. (“Oy ref, are you blind!!?” or whatever.)

As a unit, Hurn called these a ‘Three Picture Story’. I was dumbstruck on realising this was the familiar grammar of cinema, without the necessity of cut-ins and cutaways to move action through time and space.

Hurn defined the three shots as - Establishing, which sets the overall scene; Medium, often showing the significant action; with the Close up tending to add symbolic emphasis. Together, the three are more effective at showing what is important, while providing visual variety.

He also was also critical of so called ‘projects’ that go on and on without a defined end. Linking this to photographing for magazines, he pointed out that they often used odd numbers of photographs in a single article. Three, five, seven up to rarely, as many as thirteen. The photographer would know in advance how many pictures were needed. The example he gave was of a pub, with seven pictures being wanted. Draw a grid four wide and seven deep. After research, select seven subjects within the pub, then in decreasing order of importance list them in the first column. Then photograph a ‘Three Picture Story’ of each of the topics, ticking off Establishing in column two, Medium in column three and Close ups in four. These don’t have to be done sequentially, but when all seven topics have a completed ‘Three Picture Story’ the magazine has sufficient material for an effective and varied layout.

This doesn’t prevent spontaneous reactions to the unexpected, but as check-list, mental or otherwise, does ensure a full and varied coverage. I have found it especially useful in situations I am not familiar with as it pushes me to clearly analyse both what I am photographing and how effectively I have covered it.

David Hurn is also the only person I have seen go through a stack of forty full frame prints on the same size paper and unerringly identify those made with a Leica, from those made with an Olympus, Cannon and Pentax. I was so gobsmacked I failed to ask him how he did it!

Mike, this is not a comment, but a heads up to an email on information which has the potential for a post, I sent you. As I suspect such things get ignored I'm using this as a means of communicating. Won't do it again.


This seems to, at least in part, be an answer to your request for a simplified digital camera.

By separating the body from the software, with software updates being ported to the body via the user's smart phone, it seems to be a viable attempt to avoid the obsolescence of existing cameras. Ground breaking?

Though not owning a smartphone, my wife does, and I've already got the M lenses. It might tempt me to finally, to slightly embrace digital.

Also, a guy who helped GoPro to move from a niche product to a worldwide phenomena is now on board with it.

Best wishes,


I think I may have been the person to recommend Horning (although I think I mistakenly called it Hornung in my comment). Much of my living/dining room was built by Alvin (cherry table, 4 cherry bookcases. He (and his apprentices) do amazing work. I used to love to visit his shop when I lived up in Rochester.

[Yes, Scott, it was you! On Sept. 13th, 2015. Thanks very much for the tip, it has paid off in several ways. You did me a good turn. --Mike]

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