Compelled to make a difference
For years I have seen woodworkers struggle to make their way in woodworking from home workshops. They set themselves up with machines bought with borrowed money from relatives or the bank and then face the payback. Advice on how to mass-make their products, speed up operations, micro-manage time streams in from fellow woodworkers who never made their living from working wood. Few ever make it.
Defining the meaning of work
For years I too struggled trying to answer the questions people asked. To be successful in furniture their criteria in measuring success was based only on how much I made in a year, how much I got for a particular piece, how well recognized I was and so on. On occasions, one in five thousand, personal satisfaction and fulfilment entered the equation. Otherwise, success was gauged only in monetary gain or recognition as a this or a that kind of individual; perhaps a ‘master’ woodworker, or ‘the’ designer, an entrepreneur, philanthropist. In the main the more money you made the more success you could boast of. People could relate to that. Working from only one paradigm, they cannot relate to such things as personal calling, lifestyle, motivation beyond personal wealth and income and job security. I cannot recall job security. Thankfully I never had it so I was never controlled or stymied by it.
Do we work to make a living or live to work?
Most people I meet cannot relate to working 80 hours in a week and more to make a living. Being self employed I recall many years preferring to work for today’s equivalent of £3-4 per hour and work 80 hours rather than work for money 9 to 5 and someone else. I recall a time in the US (which was the only time I worked for someone else in almost 30 years) working for many years for $3.50 an hour. Had people known they would have been shocked, but I was content if not happy because I loved my work and always have and it’s that that carried me through difficult times.
Living beyond economics
We are living in depressed economic times for all the politicians puffing and blowing. Who knows the economic outcome. Perhaps we will return to more productive sustainable living and become producers again instead of pure consumers. Furniture is the first sales category in industry to be hit because people will live with what they have. So that path will be tougher I predict. But my calling is working wood and making furniture first and foremost, training others fits rightly into this equation and I am compelled to train the new genre woodworker whilst continuing to designs and make my furniture pieces.
Apprenticing isn’t a political agenda for votes but a rite of passage into a hope-filled future
There are many yet-to-be-born woodworkers out there but they may not know it. How would they? The education programmers and politicians sold the programs and the jobs to the cheapest bidder. It’s a sad reality that we rely on such lack of vision and future.
I will soon be offering a program to local young people as a social investment enterprise through the New Legacy School of Woodworking. This will be a series of Saturday and evening workshops here at my Penrhyn Castle Workshops and the local village hall. The program will be a mentoring program of woodcraft training for 18-30 year olds so please watch this space and support us if you can. We need materials and tools, some modest financing to cover material costs not wages, volunteer helpers and more.