Sunday, December 26, 2010

Crafting / Working wood - Gifts to yourself?

Gifts to yourself from crafting/making things -

     An Artfire forum thread asking the question "Do you love what you do" gave me pause to think about the fact that I do enjoy working with wood. I also thought perhaps in this season of giving we might pause to reflect of the gifts our craft returns to us.....moments, new freinds, ....a time and maybe even place where we find ourselves, and sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

Here is my reply to the question posted:

     Absolutely, I enjoy completely dropping a dead/dying tree that might even be dangerous to someone, and then making that first cut along the length of one side. It is like a christmas one has ever seen what God and mother nature have inside there, and it is very exciting to see gorgeous grain and color after the sawdust is wiped away. Getting a few blocks and slabs home and then waiting until they are stable enough to work gives me a chance to imagine what they will be, a bench, candle/holder, bowl, shelf is kinda cool.

     I often find there is some imperfection that was part of the life of the tree. A knot, unseen tension from holding the weight in the wind, rain, cold and heat. The wood moves - it presents problems that need to be solved in order to finish whatever I am making, and sometimes it just fails, or I fail to notice something that makes it come apart. I have had a few that simply blew up in the lathe, or cracked the length of the work, because I cut through a place that had this tension or a weak spot deep inside. I don't particularly love it when flying pieces are passing my head, or bouncing off the shop walls, or when I have to consign a partially finished item to the firewood pile. But, When I get those little surprises from a chunk that won't split right or a section left behind by the firewood cutters, I get one back in return, so it's all good.

    Then (often much later) when the making it is done, and I hold the finished piece in my hand and see all the grain and color, smoothed, enhanced by stain and finish, the warmth and beauty of the wood shows through and I get to realize all over agian that nobody has ever seen this thing before. Nobody has ever seen it hidden inside the previously living tree that looks just like all the others around but yet is different. It is comletely one of a kind because of the experiance of the life of the item it was made from.  The weather year to year, damage, attack form pests, and the struggle to repair itself and live all contribute to those little lines, rays and other subtle coloring and marks that make wood look like wood. It's kind like inside out people - the lines on our hands, face, and heart are from everything life has thrown at us and it is that that can reflect our character and experiance. Getting to turn that out for all to enjoy is a wonderful thing - and I do love to do it.

Thanks for asking...


    I did not really have space, nor would it have been appropraite to lauch ever further into the metaphysical in the tread. But in reality, we all get gifts back from what we do to make, or find, items to sell here. The handmade sellers get to look for supplies and imagine what to make or paint, potters get to feel the clay and the reward when it emerges from the kiln and is not broken...little surprises that are gifts from above...given because we are creating - not destroying.

    The vintage sellers also partake in getting these gifts. A surprise find at an auction where by chance one life has ended and the things they kept around them are now for sale. There ...perhaps ...might be found "one of those" ....why I have not seen "one of those" in a dogs age..the momentarily stunned vintage seller might say. This too is a gift, a recollection perhaps brought to mind....a moment you did not have to pay for, it was given because you are not simply walking in this auction to get anymore, you're there sharing because we all have things that not only bring memory of the item, but of the times and people that maybe time has stolen from us.

     How could you not love to make or find objects that other people will get to look at  and enjoy or even purchase, it is the first job of the artisan.....and a connection to the metaphysical, the enjoyment of beauty, design, and function.  Art imitates times. Asked the question what is art - I would have to reply that art is anything that connects you to something else....a painting that captures the lines that life has left on an old man's face....or an abstract sculpture that may be differing things to differing people...but yet each connects to it though the sharing of a thought or experience. Seeing the world though the eyes (and perhaps the heart) of the artist connects us with the thoughts of another and maybe we are all not so far apart as we imagine.