We worked a great deal on workshop projects over the past week: Everything from saw restoration to my new mahogany box, working with students and friends to finish up the new projects. My work is all about changing lives and welcoming changes in myself. New challenges come hard some times, but compelling ideas take compelling steps and so it was for me in starting yet another way of shaping Artisans of the future. I felt compelled into yet another new venture. You see, when you enjoy adventure., when you cannot settle for the ordinary, when you find yourself in yet another creative phase of your life, you have to enter into the adventure of it. It is a creative workspace if you will allow it. Sometimes, yes, it involves risk. When I was 13 years old I climbed my first rockface on Stanage Edge in the Derbyshire Peak District. For years after I climbed, hiked, camped, canoed and spent time with my natural surroundings. It formed an appreciation for creation. Today, I wake excited about the day yet to unfold. I feel no less excited as a fully grown man in my 60s as I did at age 13.
At 13 I pushed my first plane across a mahogany bookshelf side piece. I rounded the front edges of the curved sides with a flat-bottomed spokeshave and created stopped housing dadoes to receive the shelves. Mr Hope gave me sharp tools to work with; thankfully. My hands suddenly took on the challenge of this new dimension of woodworking, a dimension unknown to me but one that would begin the course of my life in woodworking. It was then that I entered the creative sphere of life.
The wall shelf above is my first ever completed work. It started the course of my life as a furniture maker.
My creative workspace began and soon I would enter my apprenticeship in woodworking. The adventure working with wood began and it never stopped. I have timber-framed, built canoes, made a cello, built two of my homes and a dozen or more others, cut a thousand mesquite trees, made 10,000 walking canes and staffs and about the same number of birdhouses and feeders. Unique designs came from the bandsaw and the chisel edge. My planes refined my designs and now my work continues in the lives of others.
Work is about risk. You have made the joints fit well, formed the panels and levelled them with the frames and glued the frames and panels in place. The whole looks perfect. Now you must carve the eagle, inlay the motif or the emblems. A slip with the knife and the work must begin once more. Not the whole., but the part. Another sphere of creativity begins and the reward is following your vocational calling through to its conclusion.
Imagine, 46 years later we delivered two of my designs to the Cabinet Room of the White House. The panels above are two of twelve panels replete with oak, mesquite, ebony, Bois d` arc, walnut and figured maple inlays that we used as the facade on the solid mesquite subwood. It was great fun!