The past ten weeks have, at the very least, been unsettling. I find myself worried about our health, or concerned for our community and nation. There are additional reasons for the anxiety, but this isn’t meant as a post about it.
Instead, I want to express my gratitude towards wood craft. During this anxiety, entering the shop and focusing on my craft has brought a renewed calm. I’m thankful the opportunity and drive to create. I’m a woodworker, though I imagine it’s the same for potters, bakers, makers and artists of all stripes – for those who can get into their shops and kitchens and studios.
I’m drawn to green wood and hand tools. As I’ve clunkily explained before, working the wood from the log provides an immediate connection to the wood and our community. It’s also quiet and physical, two aspects I appreciate in my craft woodwork projects. There’s a rhythm to working the wood wet – a natural movement of the body that synchronizes when the work is done correctly. Yes, it’s physical and taxing, but the body is not meant to fight against the wood. It’s to work with it. There’s a harmony here that I’ve chased during these past weeks. It’s a part of the process, a part-of-yet-separate-from actually making the piece, that I completely enjoy.
The other piece of this is that our kids have followed me into the shop. I’d need to chase them away I worked primarily on machines. Noise and safety and dust and all that. Now we all make together in the same shop at the same time. There’s been a burst of creativity through this period as well. We head down to the shop three or four times a week. Spontaneous creativity follows, with the time and head space to chase the new ideas. Sometimes our kids don’t make anything, they simply enjoy the process of making shavings with a spokeshave or driving nails into scrap wood. I can rough out a part or two for the most recent green wood project, or not, depending on the intensity and number of inquiries coming from them.
The images are of a couple recent projects still in the shop. The lead image of of a doll house chair Francis made for his sister. It appears to be a little stick chair. I don’t want to step on it in the night, so it must remain in the shop. The other build is either a crossbow or a sword, or possibly a multi-weapon of some sort. Sadly, it is not permitted in the house either. He’s currently making a collection of wooden axes for the purpose of chopping at the brush that surrounds our apartment.
Of course, I need to have a quiet shop when doing a glue up, intense figuring or planning work, so I find time to work alone as well. This isn’t a uptopia.
But I’ve found myself grateful for our ability to wander down to the shop, make some shavings, and engage with the craft in a renewed way.