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Building a Gondola

Fall 2020

Venice, Gondolas, and Black Magic

After suffering a year of twin terrors—historic floods and the Covid pandemic—the makers of Venice’s legendary gondolas are struggling to survive. To understand the unique design, history, and mystery behind this much-loved boat, our correspondent spent a year with Roberto Dei Rossi, one of the city’s last master gondola makers.

By ERLA ZWINGLE

Summer 2020

Prince Charles Redefines Originality

In a small brick building in East London, in a school developed by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, students from around the world are giving new life to a set of artistic principles that have been nearly lost. Their work is helping to revive a number of nearly obsolete skills in art, architecture, and manufacturing, with a new tilt toward sustainability.

By TODD OPPENHEIMER

Fall 2019

Do the Most Interesting Musical Pipes Come from Ireland?

While Scottish culture is branded by its famous Highland bagpipes, its neighbor across the water has long made a very different set of pipes that plays a much wider range of music. Our correspondent visits the indefatigable, obsessive masters of the uilleann pipes.

Story by LARRY GALLAGHER
Photography by RUTH CARDEN

Winter 2019

The Wizard of Old Wheels

Just like cars, today’s motorcycles have become dizzying assemblages of electronic connections—invisible to most riders, inscrutable to many mechanics. The more high-tech these machines become, the more there is to love about classic, old bikes. Among the simplest of the pack are the Japanese motorcycles of the 1970s, particularly the Hondas. They’re also among the most loved, and that’s exactly what keeps Dave Stefani in business.

Story by OWEN EDWARDS
Photography by PETER BELANGER and ELI MIKITEN

Fall 2018

The Wootz Hunter

Sometime in the 1800s, long after the Persians had beaten back the Crusaders, the technique for making the mighty swords that won those battles was mysteriously lost. In the centuries that followed, Europe’s best metallurgists repeatedly tried to revive this craft, with no luck. Then, in the 1980s, a lone horseshoer in Florida named Al Pendray started tinkering with steel recipes. A Craftsmanship Mini-Documentary

By TODD OPPENHEIMER

Summer 2018

The Apprenticeship Ambivalence

Amidst political discussion about expanding apprenticeships in the U.S., two contradictory realities persist. One is a changing landscape, in both school and work, that increasingly needs a sound apprenticeship system; the other is the refusal by many parents to understand why a formal apprenticeship might make more sense for their children—and their finances—than four years of college.

By TODD OPPENHEIMER

Spring 2018

The World’s Greatest Goldbeater

Marino Menegazzo spends his days hammering gold leaf into sheets so fine that your slightest touch will make them dissolve. His workshop—a simple brick building hidden on one of Venice’s myriad piazzas—was once the home and studio of Titian, Italy’s immortal Renaissance painter. Come visit with the world’s last true master of handmade gold leaf—an ancient craft where the hand can still beat the machine, every time.

By ERLA ZWINGLE

Spring 2018

A New Renaissance Man

When we went looking for the next member of our new and growing family—“Craftsmanship’s Young Turks”—Jack Mauch was an easy choice. At the age of 32, he’s already creating breathtaking examples of craftsmanship in everything from furniture-making to ceramics and metalwork. If this kind of range is what it takes to become a master artisan in today’s world, God help the rest of us mere mortals.

By NATALIE JONES

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