Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Today I took an excursion boat with my family from our place on Lake Coeur D’Alene to the City of Coeur D’Alene, and spent a couple hours walking between galleries in my exploration of selling prices of boxes. I found nothing comparable to examine. It’s not that my boxes are incomparable, but that the shopping was limited. The galleries were promoting “fine art,” which usually means work with little utilitarian value. In fact, the less utilitarian value an object may have, the greater the likelihood that it will become labeled “art.”

I did find one shop of particular interest, an antique store specializing in western antiques, including items from the American Indians and the western cowboy culture. There was nothing in the shop that wasn’t hand-made, and from a time in which things were made with a greater level of human attention… kind of like box making when it is done at its best. Best about my visit to this shop was that a fellow woodworker, Bill Foster, was manning the shop and attending to customers. Woodworkers, perhaps more than most other people in our current society know the significance of working with their hands.

We live in an age in which most people come to an understanding of the value of objects through comparative shopping. Woodworkers and other makers of beautiful things tend to look through a different set of eyes and experience. We often marvel at how things are made, we look at things with a greater curiosity, and because we often see the challenges involved, we may understand and appreciate work completely beyond economic variables.

I mentioned the importance of family in the encouragement of a craftsman’s work. Above and below are a couple photos of work done for my family. The walnut table above was made early in my career for my Aunt Wuzzie. The cherry table, chairs and sideboard below were made for my cousin Mary Lou and her husband Michael. This set was featured in articles in Woodworker’s Journal in 1995.

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