My rocker progress

First off this is a view from my Penrhyn Castle workshop, looking out over the Great Orme, Llandudno here in North Wales.

More people came into the workshop as I worked. Many from foreign climes; Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, China, Ireland, perhaps other parts of Europe, I couldn’t tell. My working wood somehow removes barriers of every kind. Language, culture, more. Most people look back in time as they enter, smell, watch and listen. A man stayed behind after the others left. He held out his hand and said, “I have ever seen anything like this – in all my life, I have never seen anything like this and neither have I met anyone like you.” I think that that is sadly true. He came from the middle east so I wasn’t sure if this was cultural, but he articulated what most people feel. In general, no one will ever walk into a crafting artisan’s workshop so they never see or hear or touch or smell wood. How sad is that. What’s even sadder is the fact that the nearest they will get to a workshop is a school classroom where they will be taught by teachers and technicians. So the bonding that takes place is in the artificial environs of schools. Most exposed to such systems never return to it and never enter the creative realms of which i speak. They are programmed for industry and technology and not craft and creative art. That has become the real world even though it’s utterly artificial and dead.

This is the response to a previous post:

Having a white-collar job, I always look forward to spending weekends and some evenings at the workbench.  I do love my day job, but it’s mostly brain work, so woodworking gives me something meaningful to do with my hands.  Sometimes I think it’s helped make me a more complete, balanced person.  I first started working wood because I needed to build some bookshelves that wouldn’t collapse under the weight of my books.  The shelves I built look very crude to me now, but they haven’t fallen apart yet. 

It’s funny, but people who talk a lot about “the real world” often seem to have very little contact with the material world of soil, plants, animals, etc.  By “real” they seem to mean the highly artificial, closely controlled environments that humans have made to insulate themselves from the elements.  Or they mean the world of sheer abstractions in which vague entities like “Science” or “Technology” or “The Economy” or “The Environment” interact in mysterious ways.  Talking about such concepts as if they were more “real” than a tree or a rocking chair or a cello would be almost laughable if it weren’t so sad.

I do remember your son’s cello, by the way.  I recall him working on the back plate, I was very much impressed when I saw and heard the finished instrument.

My rocking chair is moving along well and I had the back and front frames together ready for the side rails to be cut and jointed to unite them. Tomorrow I will fit them and also start the rockers that must be mortised and tenoned to the main chair. A few years ago I made this same chair for my daughter when she had her third child. I was living in the USA so I had it completely finished but not glued together. That way I could carry it in my checked baggage.

1 Comment

  1. literaryworkshop on 21 March 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Ah, well, I’m pleased that my comment found a place here.

    One of these days I’m going to build a rocker like that.  It’s an exciting prospect, but first I have to finish a tool chest and build a few joint stools.