Paving the Way To a Future Generation – We Have Already Started
Starting out on your own means preparing the way. You must lay a good foundation to build from. It need not take years, but there are some things you must be sure of and there are times when you must take risks. I hope we can minimise and even eliminate any and all failure and that you and I can support one another along the way in the same way other organisations do.
In 1975 I first went self-employed as a working artisan specialising in built in furniture. I was 25 years old and ever since that time I have worked as a woodworker and furniture maker, project designer, teacher, photographer, writer and blogger. At different points during those years I have put myself on and off the conveyor belt because I wanted to develop businesses for others to earn from and then again I didn’t want a mini factory of any kind. From time to time I got discouraged and there was little help along the way, but I always stayed true to my dream in working from or near to home and being with my wife, my children and family to see them grow.
Now I make pieces like this Rocking Chair ,which is my original design from 2010. One of the US presidents owns three of these unique designs with flowing lines that appeal to people who I have made furniture for. It may not be a starting place for you, but what we plan on ties right in with this series, which will in the near future include both the beginning projects for new woodworkers to gain skill that result in the more advanced pieces we plan that will include this now famous piece. I suggest you join woodworkingmasterclasses.com because much of what we will be doing in this series will tie in with online video and the subscription to techniques and so on is always part of their free subscription, so take a look, subscribe for free and learn.
Some of the following articles will tell of the excursions and diversions I took to help you not to make the same mistakes I made and to take some of the steps I took that changed my life for the a wonderful future working with wood and hand tools and people. There are others who have taken a similar stand against commerce and commercialism to become lifestyle woodworkers, some of them I know and some of them I don’t. They are real people and real woodworkers; Garrett Hack for one. Graham Blackburn is another I think of. There are many others you will likely never know or hear of too. They live off the land in some measure or wholly. They harvest their wood from woodlands and coppices and they even live on less than around $5,000 a year because of the decisions they have made. One couple I know own only bikes, make baskets and wooden spoons and harvest only what grows in the wild around them and from their own garden. This may well not suit you as it might not me, but, you know what? They are happy minimalists who made a decision to carve and shape their lifestyle. So just what does the world of being self employed and going on your own look like? That’s the start-up picture I want you to look at and consider for you and yours personally. Make YOUR list of how you envision the ideal world might work for you. What do you want? It will not necessarily be anything like the same as mine and no one else may ever see what you dream of becoming. Uniqueness is key to your personal future not mine. One theme I hope will be woven throughout this series will be ‘getting off of the conveyor belt’ and working real wood. Getting started will depend on your input, questions, suggestions and concerns. Some of you have children and grandchildren, husbands, wives, friends and even enemies. These things will influence how you decide your future. Few can make it alone. I might suggest a guild or fellowship that draws you all together. A forum that discusses these and other issues might have a valid start soon, but for now let’s simplify things and look at some of the core issues.
Today I want to thank you for all of the emails you sent in response to this. They show that there are hundreds of thousands of people who desire something like what I am mooting here.
In my present workshop of ten who working through this month-long hands-on, at least four or five have the desire to change aspects of their worklife and their reasons are not at all selfish. One thing I notice as a general rule is that they want to become true working artisans and invest their lives in different measure to work with the material they love best and feel the most about, which is of course wood. In my last ten-day workshop, which is a Foundational Course, I had 19 people attending. Seven of them wanted the same thing but couldn’t feel the confidence that they could do it and make a living until they came to my course. We talked most days about aspects of this. I am used to it. I have seen it happen for at least 20 years now. Not many do it because of conflicting interests; family pressures, economics, politics and of course the usual social pressures. Some states in the US are apparently like the experience I just heard from a German supporter where he says licensing is a prerequisite and hard to get without jumping through a zillion bureaucratic hoops. I say it can still be done but you must work out the exact strategy for how to. We will try to do what we can to help and I am sure there will be woodworkers out there with some legal backgrounds on every continent to help us as we go.
If you are new to my blog, please go through some of the posts and pick out those that might interest you. I have written on these issues before but now I feel inspired beyond measure to help others to become masters in their craft in the true sense of becoming an established artisan woodworker. For some it will take a matter of months and for others a few years. Let’s not wait for government talkers to shift with every wind of change but take charge of our own lives ann make the dream a reality. I don’t merely teach woodworking in some sterile state college, I answer hundreds of emails myself, I record what I know, write what I know and pass on what I know wherever and whenever I can. As I say often enough, I have now trained at least 4,000 woodworkers to work wood using hand tools and in 2014 we will be introducing start-up machine woodworking to our offering.
Before I close for today, please, if you feel anything about what we are doing, if you want to show your support, why not share it with others and hit like on Facebook here: