Doug Stowe began his woodworking career in 1976. In 1977, he founded the Eureka Springs Guild of Artists and Craftspeople. In 1995, he started writing books and articles about woodworking. In 1998, he was one of three founders of the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. In 2001, Stowe started the Wisdom of the Hands Program at the Clear Spring School, a small independent school in Eureka Springs, to show the value of wood shop and hands-on learning. In 2006, he began his blog, Wisdom of the Hands. In 2009, the Arkansas Arts Council named him an Arkansas Living Treasure for his work with wood and in education.
Stowe has published ninety articles in various woodworking magazines and educational journals and has written thirteen books on woodworking techniques. He continues to teach woodworking in grades 1–12 at the Clear Spring School, to work daily in his own shop, and to travel around teaching adult woodworking classes for schools and clubs. He lives in a hardwood forest at the edge of Eureka Springs with his wife, Jean.
The evolution of my professional life grew from three threads, carefully woven through the years into a consistent body of work.
The first of these threads was given to me as a young man when an elder craftsman, guiding me through the restoration of an old car, told me that my “brains are in my hands.” I spent the next twenty-five years as a furniture craftsman exploring that notion, proving it to myself, and arriving at the conclusion that what is true for me is also true for most others. I’ve spent the last fifteen years helping others to understand the power of the hands to reshape their own lives. There should be no surprises in this. The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaxagoras noted centuries ago that “man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands.”
The second thread was the realization that the woods that come from our great forests are too rarely understood in their great beauty and diversity. The fate of our species and planet remain linked to the fate of our forests. One of the most meaningful tasks for any woodworker is to awaken others to the beauty that surrounds us. To craft something lovely and useful from our native woods invites and inspires others to discover the value of our native woods and to take care of the forests from which they come.
The third thread was knowing that we have a responsibility to teach each other what we know. Doing something is one thing, sharing it is another. Sharing my skills with others accelerates my own learning and furthers the appreciation of nature’s beauty and the craft of woodworking. Plus, it is a joy to do.
These three threads are woven into my body of work: boxes, furniture, articles, books, classes for children and adults, and my daily blog, Wisdom of the Hands, where I promote the ideals of hands-on learning and stewardship of the forests.