Changing Lives Through Hand Work

DSC_0017I believe life has many rhythmic pulses beneficial to our wellbeing but we seldom hear and feel what I speak of because we are so enveloped in noise we often have little control of and cannot turn the volume down or even off. The reality is that we often don’t even know that the noise exists until that noise is isolated and removed. I start a new class today. It’s a non-industrial arts class free of white noise and filled with real pulses of rhythmic woodworking. We will live throughout the nine days in noises we create with planes and mallets, chisels and saws and scrapers. This composition if you will is indeed multi sensing in similar vein to music when the instincts enter performance mode and we make what we make with live, cognitive emotional connection to the work by means only possible with that mental connection we get through hand work. I often think of machines and value what they give, but when they substitute for skill I think of them as mechanical wind-up barrel organs that are entertainingly clever but can never replace the emotion of the musician intoning his and her emotion into the strings of the cello or violin they express themselves through. I think of Jacqueline de’ Pre or Stephen Isserlis as I write of this multi-dimensional realm, which I seldom find in today’s machine world of working wood. For me, this realm of real woodworking somehow defies mental coding yet I feel it’s a quantitative gateway into spheres not everyone discovers or even has access to for many reasons not the least of which is a mental block toward hand tool work. Trying to describe how hand tools change life can indeed be difficult but for me, mastering skills in handwork takes me outside of myself to a place beyond the present. DSC_0499It compels me into an experience where I feel my body is not doing it and it’s a place where effectively I have memorised masses of skill and information and compressed he essence of it by visual coding into those multidimensional realms I speak of where thought no longer seems present to limit but my work takes on a certain forward momentum that seems unstoppable. It’s at this time when the frontal lobes shut down and the rhythm of work takes over in a flow you just can’t be bothered to try to comprehend because you are in the very epicentre of surfing inside the barrel. My sensing gives me continued connection with every split I make and each saw stroke I take and this is the realm my students will enter today. By the end of this coming course, nine days of real woodworking, their lives will be so changed they may well not recognise themselves because of their wellbeing.

1 Comment

  1. John Montgomery on 1 August 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Have you ever considered publishing parts of your journals? I would encourage you to do so.