Monday, June 28, 2010
Okay, I came home from my furniture making class but haven't been able to work on my project because I don't have a workshop set up or even a vise, or worktable to attach it to. It has been frustrating. I went to Lowes and stared at the tools; the table saw, drill press, the band saw. I saw a wood vise. I don't have a proper space for a worktable. It has all obsessed me a bit. So much so that as I was standing at my butcher block counter eating watermelon for breakfast early the other morning, still in my nightie and already thinking about my joinery, I looked at the pulpy fruit, and at the knife in my hand, something about the wooden counter...and then, well, here is a movie I made to show exactly what happened:
Friday, June 25, 2010
Here is my school on a Thursday night in June, after the potluck dinner and croquet tournament and everything is cleaned up and we're ready to work on our projects some more...until maybe 11 pm or even much later. It was what I had to do and couldn't not do. I came home from Maine, my little bench still in pieces, still at step one, but what a step it was.
I have always considered the process. I have wanted the process to produce something beautiful, but have rarely cared that it remain. Food is eaten, I hope enjoyed but still, it's gone after moments. Knitting scarves and hats in winter- they're always given away as gifts. Methodically washing the floor is enjoyable to me even as I walk across it after it is cleaned, leaving footprints. However, I learned something at this school about process that changed everything about process for me. I must start with my feelings about perfection: I have always thought that imperfection is so much more interesting. I've held strongly to the tenet that perfection is not only unattainable but undesirable. I never knew that that may have limited me in the exact way that I believed perfection must limit things. Wood is quite unforgiving and I wanted my joints to fit together and I couldn't get them to. I wanted them to be good, not perfect, but the pieces wouldn't accept each other. It was challenging me. Then, one night I heard my teacher give a talk and show slides about his work and himself and the eventual creation of the school after a lifetime of being a furniture maker. It was all interesting and inspiring. At the end he made one last comment, and I had my process-altering moment. What he said went directly to the brain of me. He said that it is not enough to consider the process while transforming material, one must consider the transformation in ones self during that process. ...Whoa. I change while I "do" something?? It isn't always all about the "doing" or the thing?? I then recognized that something was changing in me while trying to transform these two pieces of unforgiving wood. I had to forget about non-perfection and really go for something more perfect than I believed was in me...or that I even wanted in me. That was the transformation! I never really got the things perfect but they were quite beautiful in the end and they did accept each other and it didn't matter anyway because I changed too. My lesson about perfection AND my lesson about process. Does this make sense to anyone? Does everyone already know this?
Anyhoo, the day after the class ended I rode my bike around town, sat by the harbor and drank coffee with my new friend/host and then she drove me to the top of Mt. Battie. I saw the plaque with Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem that she wrote while standing in the same spot. Here is a bit of it:
ALL I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I’d started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
Over these things I could not see:
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I am at woodworking school in Maine for 2 weeks. My classmates ask me why I am here. I know it is because it is the process that attracts me to the endevour. Here is my first dovetail joinery. It took me forever to do, isn't much, crude, and I plan to do many more, but I am enjoying the process. The dovetail ends of these boards will be cut off and I'll start again. Everyone else in the class has at least taken a shop class sometime and as it happens everyone seems to have a home workshop and has made things... except me. What was I thinking coming here having never made anything before, my workbench neighbor asked. Then later I realized that I was starting pure, if not just ignorant. There is nothing for me to unlearn. I didn't know there was a difference in how things are constructed and never will. It was the second epiphany of the day. The first was touching the back of a cabinet in the school's gallery. It was like glass, but warm and instead of reflecting the wall and my hand, it spoke of tree. It was humbling. It is another universe. What was I thinking coming to this class?
I just like to do.