Wednesday, August 23, 2017

getting ready for school, making inlay.

Yesterday I spent some time in the wood shop at the Clear Spring School, rearranging lathes to make more room, and repairing work benches. In my home shop, I spent some time making inlay for boxes. I will continue both activities today.

One of the interesting things about wood is that it is a narrative form. You may have to know something about its character in order to "read" what it has to say. You must take time to be observant of natural processes and the character in the wood in order to understand the story that the wood tells. The wood's story is always a story about integration of the tree into its landscape, and the circumstances within which it grew up. Where there's a knot, there had been a branch. And while that may be boring to some, it is a story that resonates throughout life in the natural world.

There is a human affinity for working with wood. Like wood, we also tell stories about our landscape (human, cultural and natural), and the circumstances within which we grew up.

So I describe for my students a see-saw upon which the craftsman may be out on one end, asserting (and insisting upon) his mastery over the material, and with the wood at the other. The conscious maker decides whether the object being made is to tell one story or the other... that of conquering material in the creation of form, or one expressing a collaboration in which the story of the tree told through the wood is also conveyed.

I choose the latter approach. While making inlay may seem to be an exercise of craftsmanship, the purpose in this case is to simply convey an understanding of the beauty and diversity of wood.

Make, fix, create, and insist that others have the opportunity to learn likewise.

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