I am thrashing this out this morning because as I type using only two fingers, those who use all ten will realise that it takes a great deal of effort and time for me to create my works in a digital world. When others can type dozens of words a minute, I usually type only a handful of individual letters.
Demonstrating these past weekends in the USA made me conscious of why my lectures and demonstrations are different than most other demonstrators who for the main part have little or no background as working craftsmen. (wish I could say craftswomen too, but they were no where to be seen in the USA woodworking scene). For 48 years my life has been filled with struggled fights, sixteen- and sometimes twenty-four-hour days, financial fights to make things work and searching for tools as yet unmade, undesigned and undefined.
My first commission in 1967 for ten pine bar stools took place on a concrete porch slab with a canvass bag filled with hand tools as yet unrefined by my working hands. My knees were calloused from vise-kneeling the wood to the concrete floor of my parent’s front porch and soreness from racking my body seemed commonplace. I say all this because that’s not what people are looking for at the shows, but it’s this that gave me determination to overcome social injustice, class distinction and it was this that formed the character I needed to fight against life’s obstacles. I remember snow filled roofing joists that held me two and three storeys above the raw earth below and with no harnesses or scaffolding to hold me as I cut compound cuts to the ends of hipped joists. At one time I was driving through four gravel river bottoms to harvest wood with which to work and loading my 15-year-old Subaru station wagon with mesquite logs. There are many more incidents like this and some of you may know what I am talking about. It wasn’t easy to get here, wherever I am, but it was worth the struggle. This was what it took for me to follow my vocational calling. No perfect benches, four-wheel-drive trucks and scaffolded buildings to catch me if I fell. Would I do it again? I would. Would I want this for others? No. It’s important to be grateful for what we have no matter what it costs.