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Watch: “The Tools of an Uilleann Pipe-Maker”

Craftsman and musician John Butler demonstrates some of the tools he uses to build Irish uilleann pipes—a notoriously difficult instrument to make, and to play.

Watch “Master of the Chair”

Watch Brian Boggs use (and discuss) his wood rail-bender, which does the work that normally requires two or three people. After the bending, he moves the wood to “the hot room”: 116-120 degrees, 16 percent humidity. (He also uses the hot room to dry mullein and stinging nettle for tea.)

Brian Boggs, Master of the Chair

Brian Boggs, maker of fine, handcrafted wood furniture in Asheville, N.C., just can’t seem to leave a good idea alone. A lifetime of tinkering and experimentation has led to his line of innovative woodworking tools—and to creating some of the world’s most beautiful, comfortable hardwood chairs.


Watch: “The Totem Pole Carver”

Nisga’a craftsman Mike Dangeli demonstrates the tools and techniques he uses to carve totem poles. These poles have served memorial purposes for Indigenous tribes for millennia.

Breathing Lives into Wood

Mike Dangeli, a First Nations artist and craftsman from the Nisga’a tribe in Western Canada, has devoted his life to preserving Indigenous history in masks, dance, song, and, mostly now, by carving ornate totem poles. The poles, a tradition that Dangeli says date back to creation, are meant to honor important moments in Indigenous history—both the treasured and the painful.


Regalia for All Seasons

Mike Dangeli’s Chilliwack home is a gallery of First Nations art. Every wall and shelf showcases tribal regalia carved, painted, and/or woven by Dangeli himself, one of his sons, or another Pacific Northwest artist he admires. His own output is enormous; at one point Dangeli was producing 40 to 60 major pieces a month. “There…

Preservation or Exploitation?

From the early 1880s until the middle of the 20th century, while many Indigenous children were taken from their tribes and imprisoned in residential schools, another First Nations population—totem poles themselves—were locked up in museums. One impressive collection is held at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology, where Karen Duffek serves as Curator…

Cuba’s Madres (y Padres) of Invention

Since the communist revolution of 1959, Cuba has been on an economic rollercoaster. The country has lurched from dependency to self-sufficiency, in a bubble of isolation where technological time stopped. Our correspondent, who in 2016 visited the artists and self-taught engineers who have kept Cuba running throughout its bizarre ride, updates us on Cuba’s declining fortunes in the years since.

Written and photographed by ROB WATERS

“Miracle in a Box” — the Quintessence of Repair

In many of our favorite gathering places—schools, churches, concert halls, jazz clubs—pianos still take center stage. Some of these instruments are still going strong more than a century after their birth. Come enjoy a remarkable documentary that follows one shop of technicians that keeps these beloved, complicated beasts alive. The best of these shops can also improve a piano, even when it’s well into its elderly years.

Introduction by TODD OPPENHEIMER
Narrated by JOHN LITHGOW

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