A crisp brightness changed the scenery this morning and the winds left a gentle tail breeze to jostle the new spring leaves. My mind traces a path through the day yet to be born in anticipation of what’s to come for everyone on the course.
I’ve milled the wood for the spatulas and spoons and still have the three-legged stool wood to cut. That doesn’t take long, but I try to mill the wood on the morning of the class, which is a common practice in all woodworking so that the wood doesn’t move too much after milling and before use. I was reminded of a saying by Sam Bush in Oregon yesterday. Sam had a sign in his school workshop decades ago that said, “It’s not what the boy does to the wood, but what the wood does to the boy.” Sam told me back in 1999 that this saying came from his Eastern Europe mentor and senior woodworking instructor who’s name escapes me now. Sam taught woodworking too. I think that this is a true saying for any craft. Working with our hands develops the intuitive but now extensively neglected aspect of our brains. I’ve seen hundreds of lives changed by simply practicing a craft and it’s for this reason that I pursue training apprentices through the New Legacy School of Woodworking strategies of hands-on, craftsman-led courses. Immediately you start to work with your hands in three-dimensional creativity, a mechanism triggers the release of chemicals that stimulate the right side of the brain. Growth becomes evident in the work emerging from the chisel and spokeshave, and dexterity ensues together with a new confidence hitherto unknown and it’s this that’s missing from much of our modern-day culture as consumers instead of creative makers. Instead of being spectators entertainedmerely by watching a two dimensional screen world, we enter a three dimensional reality working quietly and constructively with our hands.
I would that everyone had the opportunity to go on a practical course and learn to work with their hands. Today, we learn to shape wood. This is different than yesterday’s workshop working with squares and knives and geometrical patterns and symmetrical wood. My goal today, after the exactness of yesterdays joint making, is to create purely by three-dimensional shaping. All of the gouges are sharp and ready to cut; I’ll show you the results tonight!