Is this a competition?
Well in some ways it is and some not. As a paid amateur, I’ve earned my living from working with wood for 47 years. My designs are in prestigious places now, I suppose, like in restored mansions, President Bush’s home has some of my designs and as some of you now know I have two nice credenza designs I created with friends that now grace the Cabinet Room of the White House. I have designed for Senators and Presidents now, I suppose, and also for my mum and dad, my son Peter’s wedding presents and for my daughter Eleanor I made a nice walnut rocking chair and chairside table when she had Fred, my third grandson in her family.
I remember making a very nice inlaid box with drawers and compartments for someone I regarded most highly, to keep his watercolours and brushes tidy and such. His birthday was the day after mine. It took me two months to make and I so enjoyed making it. And over the years I have made several caskets for people, friends, I loved and cared for as friends. When another lost their baby I joined their sad loss crying as made the dovetailed corners of a mahogany casket two feet long. Sadness and great joy.
In sadness and joy I have worked with wood. It’s warmth has never grown cold because of the relationships I enjoyed along the way. I remember the times I have made presents for people’s birthdays more than the fancy pieces I designed. One of my designs, an iron table actually, hammer forged with steel tenons peened over on the anvil, sold over 200 and that was 10 years ago at the last count. It’s still being made. You see, I’m an amateur that gets paid and that means that whether I got paid or not I would still work with wood.
Amateurs work wood whenever they can regardless of economics. If they have no wood they whittle a twig into a whistle or a round log into a bird house. Packing crates, skids and pallets become compost bins and sheds and gates. They don’t live to sell their work so much as to simply fashion something with their own hands. And it’s this that launches them to a much higher sphere of creativity than professionals.
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