Every day (and most nights) I am working on the first issue of The Stick Chair Journal, an annual publication that will expand the universe of sticks chairs. More history. More plans. More techniques. Reviews of tools. And Big Thoughts.
The writing, photography and design for the first issue is coming together nicely, and Issue No. 1 will be released in the fall.
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Every week, I’ve been pitching my ideas to Megan over lunch. Two weeks ago, I laid out the design aspects of the Journal, plus some of the mechanical aspects (paper stock, cover stock, binding, trim size and the like). As a writer and an editor, I got quite excited about the way it would look.
Then I did what every good publisher should do. I got out my calculator and pencil and did a proper P&L (profit and loss statement) for the title.
Woodworking is a niche. The craft of chairmaking is a room inside that niche. And stick chairs are a cockroach hole in the baseboard of that room inside the niche. So now our plans are to print 3,000 copies of the first issue. If it sells out, we’ll sell pdfs of the first issue and consider increasing the press run for the second issue.
So I’ve had to make some changes. Instead of hiring an artist to draw the masthead for The Stick Chair Journal, I decided to construct it myself using fonts we already own. Same with the cover border – I can get about 95 percent of where I want to be by modifying some clip art we own. Instead of hiring a woodcut artist to make a cut of the chair featured in the issue, I’ll simulate that effect in Illustrator.
Oh, and my plans to commission a series of woodblock initial caps for our stories? I nixed that, too. So, tonight I am making our own custom woodblock initial caps – using wooden children’s blocks that I am modifying with gouges and engraving tools.
While all this might sound like I am retreating or giving up on my “dreams,” I feel the opposite. By doing this work myself, the first issue will become profitable if we sell only 1,000 copies. And that small fact ensures there will be issues Nos. 2 and 3.
— Christopher Schwarz