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Our Forgotten Arts and Crafts :
Originally published in two separate volumes (The Forgotten Arts and Forgotten Household Crafts), this book brings under one cover the wisdom of John Seymour, a well-known thinker on matters of self-sufficiency, traditional arts, and voluntary simplicity. Seymour is a utopian--he has a vision of a better world where people aren't alienated from their labors. In the introduction he writes, "Are we justified in using articles, no matter how convenient it may be for us to use them, that we know were produced in conditions which bored and even stultified the human beings who had to make them?" This question led Seymour to the research that forms the foundation of the book: rediscovering natural ways of making tools, shoes, furniture, and a variety of other items using methods that follow the grain of wood or the idiosyncrasies of a piece of stone. Seymour respects what he calls "the discipline of natural materials," and he longs for a world free of "mass produced rubbish." Chapters cover an astonishing range: from clog making to spinning to canning. Since this book is intended as a comprehensive survey, don't expect to be an expert on, say, forging metal by reading Seymour's descriptions. He doesn't go into great detail; rather, he gives the basic facts of each forgotten labor of love, and it's up to readers to decide if it's a labor they want to undertake. --Emily White [via]