Inspiration Highway

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This article is from Issue 89 of Woodcraft Magazine.

A few years ago, my wife, two teenage daughters, and I drove across the country and back in sixteen days. No, we’re not crazy. We witnessed magnificent landscapes and kitschy Americana at its finest. As we traveled Route 66 west through New Mexico, we detoured to TinkerTown. This wonderful, whimsical folk-art museum features twenty-two rooms packed with amazing miniature wood-carved figures, many animated at the push of a button. On our epic road trip, nothing captured my imagination as much as the fantastical carvings of TinkerTown creator Ross Ward. If you find yourself in the area, journey north off I-40, and enjoy the playful carved figures as they dance, perform circus acts, and gamble in a rowdy saloon.

My family and I pressed on through California, visiting San Jose to feast our eyes on an architectural spectacle like no other. Built in 1884, the beautiful, but bizarre Winchester Mystery House features some of the finest craftsmanship I’ve ever seen. The heir to the rifle fortune, Mrs. Sarah Winchester had at her disposal the most skilled carpenters of the day. Under her direction, these talented tradesmen constructed an eccentric mansion filled with labyrinthine pathways, doors that lead nowhere, windows in the floor, two-inch high steps, and upside-down posts.

Of the many marvels my family experienced on that trip, I chose to share these two because of their connection to woodworking and to whet your appetite for The Wharton Esherick Museum. Contributor Rob Spiece leads us through the artist’s home-turned-museum in all its delightful detail (p. 44). Along with great projects, techniques, and products, we here at the magazine hope to inspire you with fun destinations for woodworkers. This is vacation season, after all. On the pages ahead, we also profile a woodworker inspired by ax handles (p. 8) and share some of woodworking’s rich history in our Famous Furniture department (p. 60).

Building projects and practicing techniques will improve your shop skills. But you can really advance your abilities by tapping into the creativity of your fellow woodworker and studying the work of those who came before. One of the best things about woodworking is the enjoyment we get from learning from others and sharing our own knowledge and ideas. So dig in, learn, and get inspired. 


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