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Texture comes from life moving through generations, centuries, culture-defining events and is the wear of life in work, made goods and life itself. We have texture in us that presents our identity as this or that being. We are known by our personal texture, we make texture and live in texture. Woven together, fibres create texture. Variable and dynamically individualised. Life is as much texture as texture is life. Work, what was made, how it was made, why it was made, transcribes a message of life from a generation through another generation to future generations. It’s text messaged through the living in a way that slows down, yet seldom stops.

Con-text envelops lives in clusters of artisans as well as those working individually. Together, with a common cause, they make from little or nothing to build and creatively provide the essentials of life and then support life with the beauty of common things as well as inspired and beautiful things that enrich life for all.

This texture is the literal library of woven work formed by the amalgamation of workmen who united to build a centre where working people could read, have lessons, master new skills, spend community time with family and friends without the excesses of dissipation commonly abroad at the time. It had a wholeness about this uniting we know little of now. I am sad it stopped because this was created by workmen and women who built themselves out of isolation of little or no education into a new world beyond the pits and collieries, life in service and beyond the mereness of locality.


How do you describe the texture of eating from a wooden bowl using a hand craved wooden spoon made from a sycamore tree? Such texture no longer exists in a Chinese plate and a stainless steel spoon from Sheffield. Did you know that nothing can live on wood longer than 30 seconds – no ecoli, botulism and such? Once you’ve eaten from a wooden platter, or spooned soup from a wooden bowl you will remember the experience for life.

Working spheres of creativity have become rare in our sterile worlds of work and we stand and stare at tools lying idle that at one time rarely lay for very long on the bench. What they did we no longer know, yet, somehow we realise that these tools once connected to the growing and cultivation of things, the conversion of the rough and raw into an order and unity. Rough texture into smoothness, rough hands of people, some of them rough, made beautiful things.

Bee hives from clay and hemp, straw and wood stowed yet living gave sweetness and health from the same wooden spoon and a harmony of life found unique balance that we lose bee by bee. I understand that possibly two-thirds of the world’s food supply relies on pollination by bees. We blame over population. I say change the texture of life in whatever measure we can, safely. Gardens bring texture and context for life and we live more peacefully with what we eat grown from where we live and breath. It’s not complicated to grow food, but more the merest decision for change, adventure, participating in the texture of life and living life. Imagine your own garden and eggs from chickens you feed and cultivate. I’ve gathered eggs for decades now. I gathered five eggs yesterday, brown eggs, white eggs and green eggs. They lay in a cluster every day. I like the word cluster. It has texture to it.

The roofs of buildings are seldom seen now hidden behind smooth sheetrock and pasterboard textured with patterns and lifelessly smooth. I look up as much as I look down to see the crown of a king-post truss and the trunnels passing through beams of thick oak and chestnut. Cleverly devised from the non uniform of barely cut wood I see a jewel of workmanship above my head and wonder.



A side bead in chestnut softens an edge and prevents breakage to the corners and hand cut nails nailed close hold yet do not split the wood. I ask myself why?

The pitsaw’s kerf records texture from two men aloft and below the sliced log now squared by hand and eye.

Here text-ure records the mark of the machine alone in bandsaw kerfs equal and parallel and of exact size. It records a new age of productivity spliced into the old as repairs kept separate by the texture of two periods.

Modulation and harmony make textured melody in wood, and music and life beyond the tools sharp edge and we look with awe at the thought that no engine or machine created what we see. A pole of wood bent in its spring rotated wood into the gouge held askew and a plate of steel shaped arches from chestnut and oak. A lock filed from brass and drilled with steel reamers holds the doors secure from pilfering hands. And it’s all more texture than a man can perceive the fulness of.



  1. Hi Paul, These posts on texture might be the most important of your numerous (and very generous) blog entries of the last few months. At least they certainly touch on an important point that mostly go unmentionned. Thank you.


    1. I think texture underlies my life’s calling as a joiner and furniture maker. It is who I am in my work and knowing my work has meaning that others can glean from even if they don’t make a living from working wood as I have for these past five decades. I cannot believe how well I feel when I lie down on my bed at night. Even when I have had occupations divergent from being self employed, I still worked wood every day for many hours into the evenings. It was calling for me. An amatuer will always work wood whether he gets paid or not. A professional only does it for money.

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