Passing the Baton: Country Workshops & the Maine Coast Craft School

meet me in the country

I keep hearing bits and snatches of news about things down near Marshall, N.C. – home of Country Workshops. In his newsletter from the last part of 2016, Drew Langsner mentioned that things were slowing down. For 2017 there are only 2 tutorials this summer. So I wrote to Drew, asking “Is this it?” “Yup”, came the answer.

Drew showing bowls
Drew showing bowls

End of an era is an understatement. All those years, all those classes, trooping into their house and home. I think it started about 1977 or so. I first went there in 1980, to learn ladderback chairmaking from then-John Alexander. By the mid-80s, I was a regular attendee, and in 1988 a summer intern, ending that season with a large class in timber-framing where we built the “new” barn. Once I got a museum job in the mid-1990s, I didn’t get down to Drew & Louise’s for a while, then went back as an instructor and once a student in 2010. My earlier post about Drew & Louise, and their Country Workshops saga is here

This summer will be the end, both of the workshops and the tool store. But Kenneth & Angela Kortemeier,will take up some of where Drew & Louise are leaving off –  their new school, in mid-coast Maine, is starting up the same time Country Workshops is winding down. Kenneth has quite a resume, including  stints as Drew’s intern, and a period living with John Brown making chairs in Wales.



Here’s the fledgling website, a new place to watch.  Drew told me that part of what Kenneth & Angela will be doing up there in Maine includes taking over some tool sales involving the great tools by Hans Karlsson and Svante Djarv that Drew has helped bring to the US. And more…

l-r Dave Fisher, Drew Langsner, Louise Langsner

BUT – one other part of this story. This June, Drew & Louise are coming to Plymouth to be our special guests at Greenwood Fest. I’ve asked Drew to put together a slide history of Country Workshops, and they’ll be around for the festival to meet up with old friends and meet new ones. This is a chance to thank them in person for all the work they’ve done for decades. Many green woodworkers in America and beyond can trace their roots to Drew & Louise, even if they don’t know it…

9 thoughts on “Passing the Baton: Country Workshops & the Maine Coast Craft School

  1. I called him on Friday to buy some tools, and he told me that he was getting out of the business. I learned Windsor chair making from one of his students. I guess that makes him my green- woodworking -granddad.

  2. Thanks for this update Peter. The Lagnsners have definitely had a positive impact on my life, both from Drew’s writings and the week-long visit to Marshall with our kids during one of the Swedish woodcarving tutorials. I wish them the best and am happy to learn that Kenneth and Angela will be picking up the baton.

  3. That’s great that they’re coming up to Plymouth! I took Drew’s ladderback chair course a year ago last June, and it was a memorable experience, and also my intro to green woodworking.

  4. Ouch! Just stumbling into green woodworking and was already dreaming up a trip to the Country Workshops someday. Surprising number of roads seem to lead there for everyone who’s doing this now. Best to them both and thanks for planting so many seeds. Maybe there’s a way to record their slideshow/history for those who can’t make it to Greenwood?

  5. Wow. I’m so grateful I finally got to attend a class with Drew. I went to Country Workshops expecting to acquire a hands-on understanding of chair making and I came away with a whole different perspective than I arrived with. Drew was just doing what he does, teaching a skill and reinforcing good work habits, and Louise was just feeding a bunch of poor wayfarers who were burning an unusually high level of calories, but so many little things I was exposed to that week have continued to surface over time as being so very important. At first, I just thought my priorities in regards to woodworking had shifted somewhat and began to explore exactly how. Projects in my mind labeled under the “maybe someday” heading suddenly began to appear on the “do it now” list. Skills previously disregarded as irrelevant have become necessary. Goals that seemed so important before slipped away as others that had never occurred to me or had appeared to be beyond my grasp slowly became the only ones worth pursuing. It wasn’t just Drew and Louise… the sincere dedication to the act of making things, all of the wonderful handmade objects everywhere (like spoons!), the great abundance of the garden, the truly magical quality of the food, or any of the countless conversations with the kind folks I met there, but the whole of that experience was a tipping point that led me to seek out many other teachers I may well not have looked for otherwise. It not only shifted my approach to craft, but decompartmentalized woodworking from the other areas of my life. It helped me to better follow my path. I probably won’t be able to attend Greenwood, but I would wish them great joy in this new chapter of their lives.

  6. Hi Peter,
    Thanks for sharing this news. I remember years ago asking while you were at that museum place how I could learn more about green woodworking and you said I had to get myself to North Carolina. How right you were, and how happy I am that I took your advice!

    Drew and Louise are fabulous people, free with their knowledge, and full of it. I knew this day was coming, but was hopeful it wouldn’t be for a couple more years and I’d be able to get back down there for another class or a one on one. Sad, but also very happy for them to be taking some time for themselves. And passing the baton up north will be interesting and not a bad thing I hope. Ken is good people, so the tradition should live on.

    It was good to hear that drew and Louise will likely be up for greenwood fest. It’ll certainly be good to see them and offer some well earned respect.

    Thanks again for this update.


  7. i believe,When misery restorative healing, some sort of unhappy restful sample, but even check out the trip if noticeable consumed. Good care of the night time, insert your name installing while in the eyeport, glazing is a love, Wanted Recollection is sweet.

  8. I’m reading almost a year after it was posted. I live in CT now but one lived in NC. I first heard of Drew in one of the Whole Earth Catalogs (text precursor to the WWW) when I lived in Namibia in 1980-1982. So I visited him and Louise in the late 1980s and learned how to make Windsor Chairs. Drew stayed with Julie and me in Charlotte when he visited for a woodworking show and I loaned him my sack back to take and show. 30 years later and I haven’t forgotten a thing- that’s how good an instructor he was. I’m now picking it back up to make a few more sackbacks and a bowback setee. Thank you Drew and Louise, and The Whole Earth Catalog for introducing us!

    Jim Bruton,
    Middlebury, CT

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