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The Cigar Box Guitar Maker

When a promising rock musician tired of the road and the pressure, he gave up music and got a job at a hardware store. Then one day, he had a revelation.

Photography by STEPHEN KRAMER

Keeping the Beat: Custom-Made Conducting Batons

A good conductor can lead an orchestra with almost anything — even a chopstick. Leonard Bernstein was known to conduct a full symphony with just his eyebrows. Why, then, in this age of cheap manufacturing, are handmade, custom conducting batons still in demand?

The Agony and Ecstasy of an Oboe Reed Maker

Of all the wind instrument players in an orchestra, oboists are among the few who have to spend more time making their reeds than playing their music. As the comic monologist Josh Kornbluth has painfully learned, just one of the myriad micro-adjustments that reed makers create will make a world of difference in their music.

Photography by SCOTT CHERNIS

Watch “Josh Kornbluth: On the Short, Intense Life of the Oboe Reed”

Josh Kornbluth, perhaps best known as a comic monologist, is also an accomplished oboist. Here, Josh plays his oboe and talks about the challenges of reed-making for his instrument.

Listen to “The Agony and Ecstasy of an Oboe Reed Maker”

Oboists can spend more time making reeds for their instrument than playing their music. One such musician, the comic monologist Josh Kornbluth, has a lot to say about reed making’s painfully exacting process.

The Kayak’s Cultural Journey

For millennia, Indigenous peoples across the world have built and used wooden skin boats to fish and hunt, for sport and travel, even for warfare. Skin kayaks are the unique product of Arctic peoples, but non-Indigenous admirers of the craft are making them, too. Does that matter?


The American Folk School Movement and ‘Slow Economics’

Rather than looking to big corporate employers like Walmart for economic stability, could more rural communities in the U.S. welcome a slower growing, more sustainable economic partner?

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.


Berea College Students Craft a Bright Future, Tuition-Free

As U.S. student debt balloons to $1.75 trillion nationally, calls for loan forgiveness and low-cost or free college tuition programs are getting louder. Sound impossible? Kentucky’s Berea College has been tuition-free since 1892 — and offers an education in craftsmanship to boot.

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